Chapter 2.docx

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27 Apr 2012
Chapter 2 Evolution of Emotions
The line that led to modern humans is thought to have diverged from that leading to modern chimpanzees some six million years
Darwin dethroned human beings from place as unique creations of God
o Evidence similarity of human emotional expressions to those of lower animals
o Argued that human emotional expression have primitive aspects
Darwin’s specific analysis of facial expression would give birth to modern study of emotional expression
Broader theory of evolution changed how scholars think about emotion
Elements of an Evolutionary Approach To Emotions
Engine that drives evolution has 3 parts
o 1. Superabundance: animals and plants produce more offspring necessary merely to reproduce themselves
o 2. Variation: each offspring is somewhat different than others
o 3. Natural Selection: characteristics that allow individual to be adapted to environment are selected for;
disadvantageous characteristics are selected against
Selection Pressures
Section pressures: core of natural selection. For humans these are features of physical and social environment in which humans
evolved, that determined whether or not individuals survived and reproduced
Hereditary elements that Darwin was ignorant of, but we now know as genes, are passed during reproduction
2 kinds of sexual selection pressures determine who reproduces
o Intrasexual competition: (within sex) occurs within sex for access to mates. In many species, there’s intense and struggle
amongst males mostly. Within this, traits that allow some to prevail over others are more likely to be passed on to
succeeding generations
o Intersexual competition: (in opposite sex) process by which one sex selects specific kinds of traits in other sex. In
humans this is seen in preference women report for males of higher status. Males seek out mates who are fertile and of
optimal reproductive age
Evolutionary theorists proposed that capacity to cooperate is powerful determinant of who reproduces and who survives
Adaptation: genetically based traits that allow organism to respond well to specific selection pressures, and to survive and
Women are particularly sensitive to bitter tastes and smells during first trimester of pregnancy
People find symmetrical faces more attractive
Important determinant of whether one’s genes are passed on is survival of offspring in infancy
o Evolutionary theorists argue that responses to baby like cues ensure that parents help offspring reach age of viability
o Overwhelming love parents feel for offspring in response to baby like features, overwhelms many costs of raising kids,
and increases chances that genes will be passed from one generation to next
Not all human traits or behaviours are adaptations
o Many traits serve no apparent evolutionary function, and are better thought of as byproducts
o Shouldn’t conclude that all or most traits emerged de novo, to meet survival and reproduction related problems and
Human universal: characteristics shared by all humans
Natural selection based on genetic variation, and selects for genetically based traits
Emotions Serve Functions
At core of evolutionary analysis is function human traits solve survival and reproduction related problems and help take
advantage of opportunities
More typical to portray emotions as disruptive, and harmful influences resulting in destructive behaviour, to be mastered by
rational thought
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Subsequent accounts, influenced by theory of evolution, tend to describe emotions in terms of functions in ways that increase
chances of survival and reproduction
Aspect of adaptation is that emotions enable rapid orientation to events in environment
o Orientation:
Emotions interrupt ongoing processes and direct attention to significant threats and opportunities
Individual who quickly shifts attention to threat or opportunity is at advantage in survival and reproduction
People may believe emotions are irrational and disruptive for very reason they disrupt our ongoing thought
and reorient us
o Organization:
Emotions coordinate cardiovascular and respiratory systems, different muscle groups and facial expression
and experience
Coordination enables more adaptive response to events in environment
Evolutionary theorists sought to identify functions of different emotions
o Anger is more than just specific family of facial expressions or neural activation it’s set of coordinated responses that
help restore relations with others
o Embarrassment is form of appeasement
Evolutionary theorists offered functional analyses of different facets of emotion
Why do we experience emotional states as powerful and overwhelming?
o Emotion related feelings are informative about specific social events or conditions that need to be acted up on
Notion challenges assumption that emotions have no rational basis
o Hypothesis is that they reflect important functional relationships with environment
o Informative function of emotions has shed light on how emotional experiences figure in social dilemmas, in moral
judgments and decisions on personal well being
Autonomic physiology associated with different emotions prepares for specific kinds of action
o Not true of certain physiological responses like blush
o Certain emotions like contentment or amusement don’t seem to have obvious action tendency
Emotions are communicated in facial expression, voice, gaze, posture and touch
o Researchers agree that emotional communication coordinates social interactions
o Emotional expressions communicate info about current emotions, interactions and dispositions
o Emotional communication evokes complementary and reciprocal emotions in others that help individuals respond to
social events
Not every emotion will reveal functions it evolved to serve
Emotions are Species-Characteristic Patterns of Actions
Lorenz demonstrated genetic basis of instincts by showing that, like anatomical features, they’re characteristic of species
o If egg gets out of goose nest and extends neck and stays in that position for 7 seconds then gets up with neck still
o Processes have 7 components
1. Fixed action pattern term is great so long as you realize that what it refers to is not fixed, not action
pattern. It’s a recognizable as pattern, and biologists call it species characteristic pattern
Species characteristic pattern: extended pattern of goal directed behaviour acquired genetically and
characteristic of species
o Studying an exam involves brain derived procedures
2. Perceptual pattern that triggers it innate releaser.
For some species characteristic patterns an unnatural stimulus does better than a natural one, and
called “super normal stimulus”
Tinbergen showed oyster catchers retrieve eggs more energetically if eggs bigger than own. Can’t
retrieve big eggs, but try to do so
3. Motivational - Without this, action pattern doesn’t occur
Species characteristic patterns easily triggered but less easily modified by individual
What does it meant for empirical research to claim emotions are species characteristic patterns, who star up features are
programmed by our genes?
o If true, emotions have biological bases that include patterns of autonomic and central nervous activity
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