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Psychology (9,573)
PSYC18H3 (274)
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Chapter 2

Chapter 2 - Evolution of Emotions

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University of Toronto Scarborough
G Cupchik

Evolution of EmotionsChapter 2y Though we are not exactly descended from presentday apes we do share common ancestors with them And evolution from other animals has become the central theory in biology y As has often been remarked Darwin 1859 dethroned human beings from their place as unique creations in the image of God A piece of Darwins evidence was the similarity of human emotional expressions to those of lower animalsElements of an Evolutionary Approach to Emotionsy The engine that drives evolution has three parts The first of these Darwin called superabundance animals and plants produce more offspring than necessary merely to reproduce themselves The second is variation each offspring is somewhat different than others and differences are passed on by heredity The third is natural selection characteristics that allow the individual to be adapted to the environment are selected for disadvantageous characteristics are selected againstSelection Pressuresy At the core of natural selection are selection pressures For humans these are features of the physical and social environment in which humans evolved that determined whether or not individuals survived and reproduced y Some selection pressures involve threats or opportunities directly related to physical survival y Two kinds of sexual selection pressures determine who reproduces Intrasexual competition occurs within a sex for access to mates Intersexual competition refers to the process by which one sex selects specific kinds of traits in the other sex y Recently evolutionary theorists have proposed that our capacity to cooperate is a powerful determinant of who reproduces and who survivesAdaptationy Adaptations are genetically based traits that allow the organism to respond well to specific selection pressures and to survive and reproduce y Not all human traits or behaviours are adaptations Many human traits from snoring to nervous leg jiggles serve no apparent evolutionary function and are better thought of as byproducts Moreover you should not conclude that all or even most human traits emerged de novo to meet survival and reproduction related problems and opportunities y Evolution is a tinkerer and often endows old anatomical and behavioral features with new functions A trait that acquires a new function like this is called an exaptation Andrew uses this principle to propose how facial expressions in primates including humans were developed from reflexesEmotions Serve Functionsy At the core of evolutionary analyses is the idea of function human traits solve survival and reproductionrelated problems and help individuals take advantage of opportunities So this should be true of emotions y One aspect of adaptation is that emotions enable rapid orientation to events in the environment Emotions in effect interrupt ongoing processes and direct attention to significant threats and opportunitiesy A second general function is organization Emotions coordinate the cardiovascular and respiratory systems the different muscle groups and facial expression and experience This coordination enables more adaptive response to events in the environment y Emotionrelated feelings are informative about specific social events or conditions that need to be acted upon This notion challenges the assumption that emotions have no rational basis
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