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Measuring facial movement


A procedure has been developed for measuring visibly different facial movements. The Facial Action Code was derived from an analysis of the anatomical basis of facial movement. The method can be used to describe any facial movement (observed in photographs, motion picture film or videotape) in terms of anatomically based action units. The development of the method is explained, contrasting it to other methods of measuring facial behavior. An example of how facial behavior is measured is provided, and ideas about research applications are discussed.

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The research reported here was supported by a grant from NIMH, MH 167845. The authors are grateful to Wade Seaford, Dickinson College, for encouraging us to build our measurement system on the basis of specific muscular action. He convinced us that it would allow more precision, and that learning the anatomy would not be an overwhelming obstacle. Neither he nor we realized, however, how detailed and elaborate this undertaking would be. Seaford (1976) recently advanced some of the arguments we have made here about the value of an anatomically based measurement system. We are grateful also to those who first learned FAC and gave us many helpful suggestions as to how to improve the manual. We thank Linda Camras, Joe Hager, Harriet Oster, and Maureen O'Sullivan also for their comments on this report.

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Ekman, P., Friesen, W.V. Measuring facial movement. J Nonverbal Behav 1, 56–75 (1976).

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  • Social Psychology
  • Research Application
  • Action Unit
  • Motion Picture
  • Facial Action