Evolution of Emotions
• Evolution: Theory of how species developed. Has become a central
concept in Biology.
• Darwin presented his theory of evolution
“ some expressions, such as bristling of the hair under the influence if
extree terror or the uncovering of the teeth under that of furious rage, can
hardly be understood, except under the belief that man once exised in a
much lower and animal like condition”.
Elements of an Evolutionary Approach
• Charles Darwin described evolution in terms of three processes:
1) Superabundance: animals and plants produce more offspring that are
necessary merely to reproduce themselves
2) Variation: each offspring is somewhat different than others, and
differences are passed on by heredity.
3) Selection: rhose characteristics that allow better adaptation to the
environment are selected because they enable survival, and hence are
Daniel Dennett proposed that darwins idea is the single most important
idea anyone has ever had.
• Selection pressures: for humans these are features of the physical and
social environment in which humans evolved that determined whether
individuals survived and reproduced.
e.g. survival food, water, shelter, avoid disease and preditation.
Many systems developed in response to these pressures (e.g. fightflight
system, thermoregulatpry sustems, preference for sweet foods and
aversion to bitter foods.
• what Darwin knew nothing about
genes are passed through reproduction to the next generation and to the
Two kinds of sexual selection pressures determine who reproduces:
1) Intersexual competition: process by which one sex selects specific
kinds of traits in the other sex.
° eg. Women look for a “good character” because they will be
generous and faithful. Traits related to “good character” will be
selected for and are more likely to become part of human design.
2) Intrasexual Competition: competition for mates within a sex.
° e.g. some males engage in battles to determine who is more violent.
The more dominant has more access to females. ° Modern e.g. teasing, aggression and tests of strength of young men
serve to determine rise in status and who will be more by young
women. Young women are emotional, caring, and beautiful.
° more likely to be passed on by other generations
Fitness (Nesse argued): the likelihood of surviving and reproducing
successfully is increased for those whoa re preferred as social/sexual
partners. We are social beings which determines how able we are to form
• adaptation: genetically based traits that allow the organism to cope well
with specific selection pressures and to survive and reproduce.
with 10 000 taste buds we are driven towards sweet tastes for nutritional
value and pushed away from bitter which helps us avoid toxins in bitter or
Central problem in evolution: reproducing with healthy mates who are
likely to help produce and care for offspring makes the offspring more likely
to be health and pass on their genes (reproduce).
° table 2.1 Examples of adaptations
° facial symmetry are more attractive. Exposure to parasites in early
development as associated with facial asymmetry and disfiguration.
° recent evidence: beautiful faces= inherently good to us (fMRI)
° women put more time into raising kids so they look for mates of higher
status and more resources.
° men look at who can best carry their genes (health, age).
° men are normally mentally and physiologically aroused together as women
get physiologically aroused more often than mentally, they believe as a result
of being picky.
° Humans have a preference for baby like cues in the facial expressions of
stuffed animals, anime figures and other humans. This ensures a babies
survival and carrying of genes.
not all human traits and behaviours are adaptations.
• Byproduct: serve no apparent evolutionary adaptations. They are by
products of an adaptation in the past.
• Exaptation: endows old anatomical and behavioural features with new
Andrew used this principle to propose how facial expressions in primates
were developed from reflexes.
° animals flatten their ears for protection when approaching another in
their species. Humans raise their eyebrows for a fraction of a second.
Natural Design for Gene Replication
• Evolutionary approach would suggest that emotions are adaptations that help
humans meet selection pressures
• Genes help build the physiological and anatomical system that are engaged in
emotion. • Modern evolutionary genetics: our genes pass themselves on to the next
generation. They reproduce themselves. Our bodies are a means of passing
them on. They combine, recombine and and sometimes mutate.
• Rcihard dawkins and keith stanovich: we are ultimately robots programmed
by our genes to behave in a certain way. Technology and medication help the
genes pass and survive (Dawkins, The selfish gene).
• How do genes program us? Emotions.
° fear protect our bodies
° emotionally drawn to nutritious foods
° interested in sex (lust, love) enable genes to pass.
° emotional love for children ensures that we take care of them well.
some are programmed so closely that they become reflex.
° e.g. snake strikes and we jump back a foot. We have it wired in us since
our ancestors and theirs.
• There is a range when it comes to programming our emotions and desires
at one end there is the peremptory (the reflex closely coupled) and the
other end there are attractions and urges that our culture, and ourselves can
° at the closely couple end our genes command us (reflexes), in the middle
(emotions like anger and fear) are compelling but we can sometimes
modify and at the loosely coupled end genetically based emotions whisper
° these effects can occur unconsciously
° genes determine our hypersocial lives
• unconscious effects: outside our immediate will and occurring for reasons
about which we find it difficult to reason. Can affect our emotional biases,
impulses, and instinctual urges.
Individual Emotion: Disgust (supplementary reading)
Charles Darwin took a voyage around the world. He took many notes for
his theory of evolution.
Tierra del fuego touched some preserved meat that Darwin was about to
eat. Since it was soft the man made a facial expression of disgust. Which
is now recognized as a universal expression. The mans expression moved
darwins appetite to none. Disgust is normally for toxins, contamination, or
that a person or thing is impure and morally wrong.
The anterior insula is involved with both feeling and recognizing disgust.
Chapman found it to be the same as moral disgust.
Three Social Motivations and One Antisocial Motivation
• humans are hypersocial: we live in families, in societies that have developed
cultures ( ways of thinking and acting in social collectives)
• There are emotions that have their basis for survival, however most of human
emotions involve others (enabling us to live social lives) • The 3 primary social motivations and one antisocial motivation are considered
adaptations (selected for through evolution).
• Sociality gives us meaning in life and allows us to express our hypersocial
tendencies in different ways and enable us to choose some of our emotions
(learning to do this is important for humans)
Attachment (first social motivation)
• Konrad Lorenz: Imprinting: after hatching the animal learns to identify
with the first moving, sound making object and their effects are
irreversible. It is a biological mechanism to keep the animal close to their
e.g. geese. If they imprint on a human they will not be able to identify with
• John Bowlby: Attachment: human form of imprinting. Infancy is a very
vunerable time in a humans life, and attachment ensures that parents
care for and protect the baby.
now parents care about other forms of protection (e.g. germs)
children summon parents by crying.
• John Bowlby: secure base (mother) : when the baby starts to move about,
he or she can explore the features of the new environment when the
mother is present: the baby can retreat to her if necessary, and she keeps
a watchful eye open.
continues into adolescent years.
• Mary Ainsworth
made naturalistic studies of babies and mother in Uganda and came up
with behavioural patterns that children go through (table 2.2 ainsworths
list of attachment behaviours)
when mother is present different behaviours occur
in different societies they vary
vital function of keeping mother close as a secure base (bowlby)
• John Bowlby: coined the term: Affectional Bonds: attachment (love)
relationships in infancy create a template for later intimate relationships.
blowbly quote: formation of bond is described as falling in love,
maintaining a bond as loving someone and losing a partner as grieving
Ainsworths list of attachment related behaviours are very similar to that of
adult affection towards each other. (elaboration of universal, evolved,
behaviour patterns from early in life).
Assertion or otherwise known as Power (second social motivation)
• Dominance hierarchies are structures of competition. They give preferential
access to sexual partners, food and other resources.
in most of what humans do there is a dominance hierarchy. (e.g. sports,
school, Egypt pyramids, cathedrals, status and power in societies are acrefully regulated in modern times. (e.g.
fear of revenge, the law)
often have responsibility ties (e.g. parent care for child, protect rights of
Scheff: sees shame as the master emotion because of the importance to
maintain status, but is taboo to talk about it. Shame is the social emotion
of having ones status diminish.
***assertion is motivation to move up in the social hierarchy.
Affiliation or otherwise known as Affection(Third social motivation)
• Goldberg, Grusec, and Jenkins
affiliation, warmth and affection are fundamentally important to
• Fox and Davidson
found that when mother approached baby with open arms it caused joy
and the left frontal cortex to be activated, which is associated with
affiliation. Distress from separation didn’t cause much change in the left
frontal cortex but on the right side there was some change.
although attachment occurs for all primates not all form an affectional
bond based on warmth.
• macdonald and Goldberg
affiliation and warmth is built based on positive reward, and closely
associated with touch.
They hypothesized it would vary by culture.
• Clark and finkel
wrote about communal relating (caring) as opposed to relating in terms of
People express more emotions in relationships that are communal (caring
***Affiliation is the motivation to cooperate.
sex is combined with love in humans, but not all animals.
Djikic and Oatley: evolved motivation of sexuality becomes, by
combining with other evolved motivators. A state then arises where sexual
parteners can bestow love on each other to gain warmth and
Male provisioning Hypothesis: human sexual partners often cooperate
to raise children. In evolutionary terms it is likely that the elaboration
started with the joining of the affliative –warmth system to the
Thought that this started because our species starting walking upright and
babies could no longer cling to parents. So fathers stepped in. • Pair bonding: long lasting sexual relationships between a female and a
male. Lasting sexual interest in each other.
This is rare among other primates and the effort males put in is likely to
benefit the genes he carries.
The women offspring and man are bound by emotions of affection.
Raising offspring and group living with non kins, has given rise to
affection that is friendship based.
Everything from teamwork, friendship etc. that help us with the things we
cant do alone represent who we are as humans, as it is less common in
Emotions in the Space of Three Social Motivations
• social emotions of managing social goals
positive emotions: trust, comfort, and reassurance.
Negative emotionsL anxiety and distress.
typical emotion: anger
loss of status: shame a