Darwin and the Situation of Emotion Research

Emotion Review 12 (3):179-190 (2020)
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This article demonstrates how researchers from both the sciences and the humanities can learn from Charles Darwin’s mixed methodology. We identify two basic challenges that face emotion research in the sciences, namely a mismatch between experiment design and the complexity of life that we aim to explain, and problematic efforts to bridge the gap, including invalid inferences from constrained study designs, and equivocal use of terms like “sympathy” and “empathy” that poorly reflect such methodological constraints. We argue that Darwin’s mixed methodology is a model for addressing these challenges even in laboratory work on emotion, because it shows how close observation of emotional phenomena makes sense only within broader historical contexts. The article concludes with 5 practical research recommendations.



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Daniel Gross
Ohio State University

References found in this work

The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex.Charles Darwin - 1898 - New York: Plume. Edited by Carl Zimmer.
The Theory of Moral Sentiments.Adam Smith - 1759 - Mineola, N.Y.: Dover Publications. Edited by Elizabeth Schmidt Radcliffe, Richard McCarty, Fritz Allhoff & Anand Vaidya.
The expression of the emotions in man and animal.Charles Darwin - 1898 - Mineola, New York: Dover Publications.

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