Research on Emotions and Future Developments in Human Ethology

  • Glenn Weisfeld


This chapter presents a model of the basic human emotions which, it is argued, can be taken as comprising the main elements of the human ethogram and hence of human behavior. The chapter begins with a critical review of criteria that have commonly been used in constructing such lists, and argues for heavy reliance on the criteria of adaptive value and affect. Since affect is the most characteristic feature of emotions and seems to induce their particular behavioral tendencies, expressions, and visceral adjustments, affect is perhaps the single best defining feature of each emotional modality. Because of its ethological nature, this sort of list of emotions may be more comprehensive than alternative lists lacking a comparative basis, and it avoids superficial dichotomies between types of emotions. Some general properties of affects are then discussed, such as their valence, intensity, and timing. Some possible applications of this model for studying a wide range of human behaviors are then suggested, including sex and developmental differences, and individual, cultural, and pathological variation. It is argued that ethological methods and a phylogenetic perspective are essential for arriving at a complete description of the human emotions and their facets, while at the same time avoiding an overly cybernetic modularization model.


Parental Behavior Emotional Expression Basic Emotion Human Emotion Observational Research 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Glenn Weisfeld
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyWayne State UniversityDetroit

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