- Entertainment and Media
Paul Ekman and the Science of 'Lie to Me'
Lie to Me*
Lie to Me is a television show produced by Fox and stars Tim Roth as Professor Cal Lightman, a world renowned expert on lie detection, with a particular talent for reading micro-expressions that flash across people’s faces, betraying what they are really feeling. The abilities displayed on the show by Cal and his team seems almost supernatural at times, but accuracy is maintained by consultation with scientific advisor, Dr. Paul Ekman.
Paul Ekman graduated from Adelphi University in 1958 with a Ph.D. in clinical psychology but his interest in body language and facial expressions began four years earlier, becoming the basis for his Master’s thesis in 1955. Thus began 30 years of study in the areas of human emotion, non-verbal communication, including facial expressions, and deceit.
Dr. Ekman is currently the Manager of the Paul Ekman Group (Lightman Group anyone?) which produces the web application, F.A.C.E. Training (Facial Expression. Awareness. Compassion. Emotion.), and METT: the micro-expression training tool; both of which are used by Government agencies, business professionals, Doctors and Teachers, to help detect when lies are being told.
There is an excellent blog on the Fox community website in which Dr. Ekman analyses the techniques used in the latest episode of Lie to Me*. It's a must read for any serious fan of the show.
Finally, if you really want to study Dr. Ekman’s work in more detail you should look up some of his books. “Telling Lies” is an excellent introduction, and “Why Kids Lie: How Parents Can Encourage Truthfulness” is of particular relevance to parents, guardians or anyone else working with children.