The Survival Value Of Emotions

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The Survival Value of Emotions In evolutionary theories of emotion, such as those established by Darwin, and further expanded by Robert Plutchik and Paul Ekman, emotions developed historically as a result of natural selection and functioned primarily for our survival (Ekman, 1992, p.169; Laurentian University (LU), n.d. 3.1 ). To respond to these needs, emotions were adaptive, meaning they had survival value, and thus were selected specifically to aid in reproduction, the protection of young, cooperation as a group, and protection from threats (Johnson, n.d). Based on this evolutionary theory, Table 1.0 illustrates the six basic adaptive emotions proposed by Paul Ekman (Keltner, 2014, p. 89), the survival value of each emotion and how they might apply in contemporary society. Table 1.0 EMOTION EVOLUTIONARY SURVIVAL VALUE SURVIVAL VALUE TODAY Happiness • attraction and mating • family and group cohesion (safety in numbers) • attraction, mating and social capacity • general well-being and ability to function/be productive in society • drives creativity and a culture of acceptance/tolerance Sadness • discourages behaviours resulting in loss of alliances or access to food • discourages behaviours resulting in loss i.e. relationships, freedom, housing, work, health, safety • adherence to cultural norms/sanctions for individual and societal welfare Fear • avoid threats to life and limb • avoid threats to life and limb • circumvents adverse situations that can cause
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