An Evolutionary Approach to Understanding Distinct Emotions

Emotion Review 6 (4):308-312 (2014)
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According to evolutionary accounts of distinct emotions, these emotions are shaped by natural selection to adjust the physiological, psychological, cognitive, and behavioral parameters of an organism to facilitate its capacity to respond adaptively to threats and opportunities present in the environment. This account has a number of implications, most notably: each distinct emotion serves, or served, an adaptive function, and emotions are comprised of multiple components, all of which should be functional. In this article, I briefly outline an evolutionary approach to understanding distinct emotions, then explain how this approach could be falsified, how one’s own emotion experience differs from the observation of an emotion experience in someone else, and why variability in emotional responding should be expected.



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