The characters Joy and Anxiety from the film Inside Out 2
Animators relied on the research of Paul Ekman, PhD '58, '08 (Hon.), to accurately depict the characters' emotions. ©Disney+Pixar

Beyond the engaging story and colorful characters, this summer's hit movie is rooted in neuroscience, thanks to the expertise of renowned psychologist and scientific consultant Paul Ekman, PhD ’58, ’08 (Hon.).

Inside Out 2 is following in the footsteps of the original Inside Out in becoming a box office smash and winning the hearts of audiences and critics. It brought in $155 million in its first weekend of release, making it the biggest opening of the year and the first movie since last July’s Barbie ($162 million) to debut above $100 million, according to Variety.

Beyond the fun storyline and colorful characters, the film is “far more complex and neuroscience-rooted than it appears,” according to Time magazine, saying, “…the film’s science is real, complicated, and correct. And in order to get it right, Pixar has brought in the professionals.”

Paul Ekman, PhD ’58, ’08 (Hon.), renowned psychologist best known for his pioneering work on emotions and facial expressions

Paul Ekman, PhD ’58, ’08 (Hon.), a pioneer in the science of emotions, served as scientific consultant on the first film and returned for the sequel, joined by Lisa Damour, PhD, and Dacher Keltner, PhD.

A professor emeritus of psychology at the University of California, San Francisco, and founder of Paul Ekman Group LLC, Dr. Ekman earned a doctorate in experimental psychology from Adelphi’s Gordon F. Derner Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies (now the Gordon F. Derner School of Psychology) and is best known for his study of the relationship between emotions and facial expressions. In 2021, he presented the annual Lindemann Lecture in Human Development called “An Evening With Paul Ekman: A Giant in Our Understanding of Emotions.”

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