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Behav. Sci. 2013, 3(3), 388-407; doi:10.3390/bs3030388

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 / Revised: 3 July 2013 / Accepted: 8 July 2013 / Published: 17 July 2013
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Functional Perspectives on Emotion, Behavior, and Cognition)
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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. View Full-Text
Keywords: emotion; Cannon-Bard; limbic system; functional adaptation; neuroendocrinology; comparative psychology; elicitor; appraisal; affect; motivated behavior emotion; Cannon-Bard; limbic system; functional adaptation; neuroendocrinology; comparative psychology; elicitor; appraisal; affect; motivated behavior
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Weisfeld, G.E.; Goetz, S.M.M. Applying Evolutionary Thinking to the Study of Emotion. Behav. Sci. 2013, 3, 388-407.

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