Monday, February 01, 2010

Emotions and your FACE, Part 1

One of my favorite shows currently is "Lie to Me" which is a show about a man who has devoted his life to the study of people's faces and what they can tell you. I have always prided myself on being able to read people's emotions and especially their eyes. There is science behind what scripture calls discernment.

The science of "Lie to Me" is based on the work of Paul Ekman. A real life psychologist who studies this thing. Hard science and hard to understand. I prefer a book by Scott McCloud called "Making Comics" where he does the same thing in comic form. To be able to draw good comics you must understand facial features. According to Scott there are only 6 real emotions, all others are combinations and variations of these six. It is kind of like the primary colors versus a variation of tone or combination of colors that make the difference. Here are his six primaries: Anger, Disgust, Fear, Joy, Sadness, and Surprise.

These six emotions are the primary colors for all emotions that we as humans feel. It doesn't matter where you are from or how old you are. We ALL have these primary emotions.

Now, right now, you might be feelings a little disgust with the things I am saying but most of you don't believe it. You think there are FAR more expressions and emotions than these six. The simple answer is: you're right, there ARE, a LOT more than these six but these are the primary emotions. Each of these can be mixed or give more or less intensity to come up with all the emotions you use every day.

But here's the thing that hit me. Look at the list of emotions again. IF they are the primary emotions can they also be the "elementary" emotions? In other words, are these not what you see in babies who, throughout their growth, learn to control, color, and nuance to the point of masking the true emotion behind it.

When you "read" someone's emotions on their face, what you are doing is looking for the hints of these six primaries. Try to find other primary emotions and next time we will study the intensities of these six to find YOUR face.

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