Evolutionary origin of emotions: Continuity between animals and humans

Glasnik Za Društvene Nauke 6 (2014):45-62 (2014)
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This paper discusses the evolutionary origin and adaptive functions of emotions, in line with contemporary evolutionary psychology. Drawing upon Charles Darwin’s study of emotional expressions, it is argued that there is an evolutionary continuity among animals in emotional capacities, and that the differences between humans and animals are differences in degree and not in kind. The focus is on basic or primary emotions (joy, fear, sadness, anger), as it has been consistently shown that they are universal and shared among many different species. Basis for this view is the neuroscientific research on brain mechanisms underlying the emotions, especially subcortical brain regions that are proven to be the evolutionary old loci of emotions, homologous across many species. These neuroscientific data provide convincing empirical evidence for the existence of emotional experiences in animals and the evolutionary continuity among species.

Author's Profile

Zorana Todorovic
University of Belgrade (PhD)


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