Chapter 2 book notes on Understanding Emotions
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Chapter 2 ± Evolution of Emotions
x Evolution from other animals has become the central theory in biology, offering insights into the nature of
x Darwin; argued that human emotional expressions have some primitive aspects, similar to lower animals.
o Ex: some expression, such as bristling of the hair when scared, or uncovering of the teeth when in
Elements of an evolutionary approach to emotions
x Superabundance ± animals and plants produce more offspring than necessary to reproduce themselves
x Variation ± offspring is somewhat different than others
x Natural Selection ± characteristics that allow an individual to be adapted to the environment are selected for;
disastrous characteristics are selected against
1) Selection pressures
x Natural selection = Selection pressures
x Features of the environment (social and physical) determine whether or not individual survive and
x Need to find food and water, stay warm
x Need to avoid predation and disease
x Intrasexual competition ± occurs within a sex for access to mates. Traits, whether it be strength, beauty,
humor, allow some to prevail over others are more likely to be passed on to succeeding generations.
x Intersexual competition ± process by which one sex select specific kinds of traits in the other sex. In
humans, this is seen in the preference women report for males of higher status. Conversely, males might
seek out mates who are fertile and of optimal reproductive age.
x Genetically based traits that allow the organism to respond well to specific selection pressures and to
survive and reproduce
x Ex: preference for sweet tastes helps us identify nutritional value of foods
x Ex: morning sickness during pregnancy as a mechanism to avoid intake of certain toxins?
x Not all human traits or behaviors are adaptations **
x Exaptation ± a trait that acquires a new function
x Facial expressions in primates were developed mainly from reflexes
x Ex: brief raising of the eyebrows occurs when people approach one another during greeting/flirting, probably
a human universal.
Emotions serve functions ± WKHVHDUHDGDSWDWLRQV«IXQFWLRQVVXFKDVRULHQWDWLRQDQGRUJDQL]DWLon)
x Earlier in history, it was typical to portray emotions as disruptive, and harmful influences resulting in
destructive behavior, to be mastered by rational thought.
x 1) Orientation ± Emotions interrupt ongoing processes and direct attention to a threat or an opportunity, an
advantage in survival and reproduction
x 2) Organization ± emotions coordinate the CV and respiratory systems, the different muscle groups, facial
expression and experience.
o Anger ± set of coordinated responses that help restore just relations with others
o Embarrassment ± form of appeasement
o Compassion ± enhances the welfare of vulnerable individuals, especially when they have been
x Æ Emotion-related feelings are informative about specific social events or conditions that need to be acted
x Associated with different emotions prepares for specific kinds of actions such as fighting or soothing.
x However, not true of certain physiological responses, such as the blush.
x Certain emotions such as contentment or amusement do not seem to have an obvious action tendency.
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