Feb 26, 2009 | 2
We really do judge a book by its cover—and, it seems, the competence of politicians by their faces. What's more, adults and kids see the same competence—or, as the case may be, ineptitude—in a person's visage, which helps explain why children can accurately predict presidential elections, according to new research published today in Science.
Swiss adults unfamiliar with French politics were shown 57 pairs of photos of opponents from an old French parliamentary election and asked to pick which ones looked most competent. In a separate experiment, Swiss kids ages 5 to 13 played a computer game that enacted Odysseus' trip from Troy to Ithaca. Then, using the same pairs of photos, researchers asked the kids which candidate they'd choose to captain their ship. In both experiments, the adults and children tended to pick the winners of the election.
Jan 21, 2009 | 2
TV's newest law-enforcement hero is a mind reader of sorts, an expert in the language of faces who can masterfully pick up whether a suspect is fibbing by his or her expressions. Lie to Me, premiering tonight at 9 P.M. Eastern time on Fox, is inspired by the work of psychologist Paul Ekman, a guru of interpreting facial expression and nonverbal communication.
Ekman trains law enforcement authorities to clue into body language based on his Facial Action Coding (FAC) system, a collection of more than 10,000 combinations of expressions and their relationship to particular emotions published in 1978. The show's protagonist, Cal Lightman (played by actor Tim Roth) is, like Ekman, in charge of a company that teaches cops and federal agents those same tricks. The New York Times noted yesterday that a producer of the series, Brian Grazer, decided to build a show around Ekman's work after reading about it in a 2002 piece in The New Yorker.
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