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Applying Evolutionary Thinking to the Study of Emotion
Department of Psychology, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI 48202, USA
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Received: 3 June 2013; in revised form: 3 July 2013 / Accepted: 8 July 2013 / Published: 17 July 2013
Abstract: This paper argues for invoking evolutionary, functional thinking in analyzing emotions. It suggests that the fitness needs of normal individuals be kept in mind when trying to understand emotional behavior. This point of view is elaborated in sections addressing these topics: defining emotion; applying comparative analysis to the study of emotions; focusing on the elicitors and resulting motivated behaviors mediated by the various affects; recognizing that not all emotions have prominent, distinct facial expressions; acknowledging all of the basic emotions and not just some exemplars; crediting the more sensible Cannon-Bard theory over James-Lange; recognizing the more ancient, fundamental role of the limbic system in emotion compared with that of the neocortex; and analyzing socio-emotional interactions as they occur naturally, not just individual emotional behavior studied under artificial conditions. Describing the various facets and neuroendocrine mechanisms of each basic emotion can provide a framework for understanding the normal and pathological development of each emotion. Such an inventory, or ethogram, would provide a comprehensive list of all of the observable behavioral tendencies of our species.
Keywords: emotion; Cannon-Bard; limbic system; functional adaptation; neuroendocrinology; comparative psychology; elicitor; appraisal; affect; motivated behavior
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Cite This Article
MDPI and ACS Style
Weisfeld, G.E.; Goetz, S.M.M. Applying Evolutionary Thinking to the Study of Emotion. Behav. Sci. 2013, 3, 388-407.
Weisfeld GE, Goetz SMM. Applying Evolutionary Thinking to the Study of Emotion. Behavioral Sciences. 2013; 3(3):388-407.
Weisfeld, Glenn E.; Goetz, Stefan M.M. 2013. "Applying Evolutionary Thinking to the Study of Emotion." Behav. Sci. 3, no. 3: 388-407.