Paul Ekman (INFJ)

Paul Ekman

Type: INFJ

 Profession: Psychologist

Born: 1934 (age 83)

Generation: Silent

Nationality: American

"Emotions change how we see the world and how we interpret the actions of others. We do not seek to challenge why we are feeling a particular emotion; instead, we seek to confirm it."
Paul Ekman


Interviews are useful for familiarizing yourself with the visual and temperamental aspects of different types.  Notice Paul’s facial expressions, eye movements, posture, mannerisms, speech patterns, and responses to others.  Over time, you will recognize similar patterns in other INFJs.


Although not as immediately apparent as in interviews, a person’s type shines through in the work they create as well.  Notice the content, themes, and approach Paul uses in his work.  What light can this shed on the mind of INFJs in general?

     In my first study I showed photographs to people in five cultures—Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Japan, and the United States—and asked them to judge what emotion was shown in each facial expression. The majority in every culture agreed, suggesting that expressions might really be universal.  Carrol Izard, another psychologist who had been advised by Silvan, and was working in other cultures, did nearly the same experiment and got the same results. Tomkins had not told either of us about the other, something that we initially resented when we found out we were not doing this work alone, but it was better for science that two independent researchers found the same thing. It seemed that Darwin was right.
     There was a problem: How could we have found that people from many different cultures agreed about what emotion was shown in an expression when so many smart people thought just the opposite? It wasn’t just the travelers who claimed that the expressions of the Japanese or the Chinese or some other cultural group had very different meanings. Birdwhistell, a respected anthropologist who specialized in the study of expression and gesture (a protege of Margaret Mead), had written that he abandoned Darwin’s ideas when he found that in many cultures people smiled when they were unhappy. Birdwhistell’s claim fit the view that dominated cultural anthropology and most of psychology—anything socially important, such as emotional expressions, must be the product of learning, and therefore different in each culture.
     I reconciled our findings that expressions are universal with Birdwhistell’s observation of how they differ from one culture to another
by coming up with the idea of display rules. These, I proposed, are socially learned, often culturally different, rules about the management of expression, about who can show which emotion to whom and when they can do so. It is why in most public sporting contests the loser doesn’t show the sadness and disappointment he or she feels. Display rules are embodied in the parent’s admonition—”Get that smirk off your face.” These rules may dictate that we diminish, exaggerate, hide completely, or mask the expression of emotion we are feeling.

More INFJs:

Leave a Reply