Modularity, and the psychoevolutionary theory of emotion

P. E. Griffiths
1990 Biology & Philosophy  
It is unreasonable to assume that our pre-scientific emotion vocabulary embodies all and only those distinctions required for a scientific psychology of emotion. The psychoevolutionary approach to emotion yields an alternative classification of certain emotion phenomena. The new categories are based on a set of evolved adaptive responses, or affect-programs, which are found in all cultures. The triggering of these responses involves a modular system of stimulus appraisal, whose evaluations may
more » ... onflict with those of higher-level cognitive processes. Whilst the structure of the adaptive responses is innate, the contents of the system which triggers them are largely learnt. The circuits subserving the adaptive responses are probably located in the limbic system. This theory of emotion is directly applicable only to a small sub-domain of the traditional realm of emotion. It can be used, however, to explain the grouping of various other phenomena under the heading of emotion, and to explain various characteristic failings of the pre-scientific conception of emotion.
doi:10.1007/bf00127486 fatcat:xwqagyap7nbehjccsa2b4nvepm