Emotions Revealed Book Summary - Emotions Revealed Book explained in key points
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Emotions Revealed summary

Paul Ekman

Recognizing Faces and Feelings to Improve Communication and Emotional Life

3.8 (49 ratings)
16 mins

Brief summary

'Emotions Revealed' by Paul Ekman is a fascinating exploration of the complex world of human emotions. Ekman provides insight into the universality of emotions and offers practical strategies for identifying and managing them in ourselves and others.

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    Emotions Revealed
    Summary of 7 key ideas

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    Our emotions are the product of evolution and are still attuned to the concerns of our ancestors.

    If you’ve ever been embarrassed after crying your eyes out during a Pixar movie, you may have wished you could make your emotions less visible. But outward displays of emotion like these are actually very useful evolutionary tools.

    In fact, these sometimes uncontrollable emotional reactions are innate, and they’re still triggered by the same things that our ancestors had to deal with.

    For instance, animals were a main threat to our ancestors, and some of these predators have been around so long that they’ve become imprinted on our brain, always eliciting a fearful reaction.

    Swedish psychologist Arne Ohman tested this theory in 1993. He wanted to determine whether people today are more sensitive to things like spiders and snakes, which would have been a threat to our ancestors as well.

    So, Ohman showed his subjects an image of a spider accompanied by an electric shock. He then repeated this procedure with an image of a pretty flower, also accompanied by a shock.

    A single electric shock coupled with the picture of the spider was sufficient for people to react with fear when shown the image of the spider alone. In contrast, it took many more shocks to condition people to fear the image of the flower.

    Okay, but what about a more modern threat, like guns?

    Ohman repeated the experiment, this time pairing a shock with an image of a modern gun and then with an image of a spider.

    Again, the ancient fear proved more powerful: test subjects took just as long to react fearfully to the gun as they did to react to the flower, while the spider remained innately frightening.

    This is strong evidence, suggesting that our emotions, especially fear-based ones, are hand-me-downs from our ancestors and their experiences.

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    What is Emotions Revealed about?

    Emotions Revealed (2003) puts emotions under the microscope, revealing where they come from and how to recognize them, whether they’re yours or someone else’s. If you’ve ever wanted to know if someone was being dishonest or trying to deceive you with a friendly smile, these are the blinks for you!

    Emotions Revealed Review

    Emotions Revealed (2003) offers a deep exploration of human emotions and their significance in our everyday lives. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • Discover scientifically grounded insights into the world of emotions, helping us better understand ourselves and those around us.
    • Through real-life examples and captivating stories, Paul Ekman brings emotions to life, making the book both relatable and compelling.
    • Gain practical strategies for managing and interpreting emotions, equipping us with valuable skills to navigate our lives more effectively.

    Best quote from Emotions Revealed

    My will and reason were powerless against the imagination of a danger which had never been experienced. - Charles Darwin

    —Paul Ekman
    example alt text

    Who should read Emotions Revealed?

    • Law enforcement officers who need to recognize the emotions of criminals and victims
    • Therapists and psychologists who want to help patients cope with their emotions
    • Empathetic people who want to connect more effectively with others

    About the Author

    Paul Ekman is a consulting psychology expert for police departments and security offices. He’s also helped Pixar Studios bring animated characters to life by availing them of his expertise on emotions and how they’re revealed through facial expression.

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    Emotions Revealed FAQs 

    What is the main message of Emotions Revealed?

    Understanding and interpreting emotions is key to navigating social interactions and improving emotional intelligence.

    How long does it take to read Emotions Revealed?

    The reading time for Emotions Revealed varies depending on the reader's speed, but it typically takes a few hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Emotions Revealed a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Emotions Revealed offers valuable insights into the world of emotions, making it a worthwhile read for anyone interested in understanding themselves and others better.

    Who is the author of Emotions Revealed?

    The author of Emotions Revealed is Paul Ekman.