I actually feel disappointed. Almost disgruntled actually. Because my field, which is huge, was entirely ignored by researchers I thought new better. Well, maybe.
I got my Edge update, where they had links to their master class, and the one for the day was by Leda Cosmides, and about motivation, and it was clear, emotion from an evolutionary perspective.
It started good. But, quickly became a bit… didn’t you spend just a tiny bit reading before launching into this? They are interested in motivation, and she claimed early on that with the cognitive revolution, the interest in motivation disappeared. Perhaps. It does have some people looking at it in social psychology, because us social psychologists tend to take up everything.
But, quickly, it was clear she was not talking about motivation, but about emotion. Why do we spend time grieving, envying, etc. And, she claims, basically, that this has not been looked at, from the computational/evolution view.
I like seriously and most emphatically beg to differ.
Right now, I’m teaching a class on emotion, from a Textbook (meaning – established enough to actually have written undergrad texts about it), written by Keith Oatley, Dacher Keltner och Jennifer Jenkins. Oatley (with Johnson Laird) published computational theories of emotion in the 80’s. Bower had a computational theory of emotion in the 70’s (right out of the computer metaphor). Ortony Clore and Collins had quite the computational theory of appraisal that was seasoned even when I was doing my comprehensives 1998. And, Keltner, disciple of Ekman, is no stranger to Evolution. In fact, there is a chapter on emotion and evolution, and the functional/evolutionary approach appears in just about every chapter.
Darwin did emotion. And, Silvan Tomkins argued that emotion and motivation are separate.
There is excelent brain work on emotion: Panksepp, LeDoux, Rolls, Davidsson. Some protomodularity going on.
There are people doing cross-species comparative work on emotion (People working with DeWaal).
This isn’t new. There is an incredibly rich source of work to draw from.
Not to speak of the new evolutionary social psychologists: Kenrick, Neuberg, Cottrell, looking at emotion and prejudice from a very evolutionary perspective.
I don’t expect people to know everything, of course, but this is not a forgotten area. This is an area that has been exploding the past 15 years.
Not to speak about people like Jon Haidt.
Yes, using ev psych (in broad speak) to look at emotion is interesting, and much more can be done.