Jobs of Affective Scientists are safe, for now

The Fox TV show Lie to Me is based loosely on the work of Dr. Paul Ekman. Actually, to say it is loosely based on Ekman’s work is probably an overstatement. Ekman is a psychologist known for his research on emotions, namely the universality of basic emotions (i.e. happy, sad, fear, anger, disgust, surprise).

In contrast, the main character of the show is a entrepreneur-scientist who solves crimes based on emotional clues of witnesses and suspects. Paul Ekman actually has a weekly blog about the show, and he says that “most of what you see is based on scientific evidence,” but admits that the show takes poetic license.

Now get this, research is being done on a TV show based on research! How Meta! The executive summary of the research reported here is that the jobs of affective scientists are safe.

Lie to Me appears to increase skepticism at the cost of accuracy,” reports a research team led by Timothy Levine, a professor of communication at Michigan State University. Its study, published in the journalCommunication Research, finds watching the drama increases suspicion of others even as it reduces one’s ability to detect deception.

-Posted by Tyler

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