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Posts Tagged ‘homeostasis’

Emotion research is now routinely referenced as a part of an evolutionary substrate. However, explicit experimental evolutionary analyses of emotions remain rare.

The implications of natural selection for several classic questions about emotions and emotional disorders should be the focus of research programs that are stagnant with 19th and early 20th Century hypotheses that cannot be proven but are failed to be dismissed by those doing research in the area marring if not diluting the term ‘social scientist’.

Emotions are NOT special modes of operation or unique states shaped by natural selection. They ARE conditioned artifacts of centuries of classical conditioning between flight or fight related contingencies that then are conditioned using conditioned products of those states to set up additional pairings that come to elicit response once related to fear, threat, escape from danger, avoidance of peril, and other euphemisms of exhaust [with all the physiological and nervous system components apparent as if a real threat or escape from isolation were present] from contingencies involving wide swings in homeostasis. They are conditioned most assuredly and supported by the environments (including people) that have notions [history in context] of similar states.

Collectively they are, or they make up, a large scale of response parameters [behavior sets] that may have or potentially do increase fitness by learned adaptations to challenging situations that occurred over the course of the individual’s history and were taught to generations over the course of that tree’s evolution. Some societies are almost devoid of emotional content while others are mired in emotional waves as a ‘tradition’ or a cultural response to the vagaries of life’s changes.

In all cases emotions are valenced.

Valence, as used here means the property along a continuum (positive – negative) of an event, object, or state. Ambivalence here would refer to no particular valance based on the context or history of the organism. No, valences are not just for humans but are represented differentially by any organism that displays changes in affectations based on behavior.

Valence is not an absolute property of any identified emotion but is relative based on context and history. Selection shapes each case where contingencies that have influenced fitness in the past shape expression. In situations that decrease fitness, negative emotions are useful and positive emotions are harmful.

Selection has partially differentiated subtypes of emotions from generic precursor states to deal with specialized situations: our communication of internal states that are not available to view by the outside world. This communication of subjective states – emotions – has resulted in untidy associations that blur across dimensions rendering the quest for simple or objectivity futile. For some social scientists this state of affairs doubles their efforts. For others, the recognition of emotions as exhaust is good enough for both communication and but also the redirection of research time and effort on things, events and states that lead to a better understanding of what’s going on in the world. Non-scientists use the same approach to make their course corrections only those sets of changes lack a unique vocabulary to allow communication and efforts to be reinforced effectively by the environment.

Selection has shaped mechanisms that control the expression of emotions on the basis of an individual’s appraised value of a state based on the past and the current context. This is the conversion of data to meaning. This meaning of events, etc. is the synthesis for the individual to use in evaluation of subsequent conditions – some of which may be related to avoidance and some of which may be related to acquisition of reinforcers whether they are goals, etc. or states of existence.

The prevalence of emotional disorders can be attributed to several conflicting values [also conditioned in us all] and valences that go with them as factors that contribute to something being a ‘disorder’ [negative] or a ‘passion’ [positive].

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