Summary of Damasio, A. R. (1999). The feeling of what happens: Body and emotion in the making of consciousness. Orlando: Harcourt AND Rossano, M. J. (2003). Expertise and the evolution of consciousness. Cognition, 89 (3), 207-236.
Traditionally when we speak about emotion and motivation we think of the tools that are used to guide behavior. The two are indelibly connected and are impossible to study separately. Motivation and emotion are keys to survival. We need to be motivated to find food, shelter, and warmth, but we also need to be emotionally invested in what we are looking for. The motives and emotions we experience in our everyday lives are developed through the time of our ancestors and continue to affect us today. Motivation is defines as the study of the directional and energizing aspects of the behavior. All animals experience motivation according to their environment. We experience different kinds of motivation and needs depending on our situation and surrounds. Emotion is defined by its pleasantness or unpleasantness, there are no neutral emotions, but it does involve affect. Emotion is a component in motivation, and there is always a connection between the two. However, often we accomplish tasks without feeling any type of urge to complete the task, it seems natural, but it is only natural because our ancestors spent thousands of years becoming accustomed to the subconscious moves we complete today.
Whenever one is completing an action, there are three steps before the action is taken. The first is the stimulus. This is the actual seeing or hearing of the object soon to be reacted to. The stimulus causes us to interpret the situation. We recognize the object with an adjective. The object can be dangerous, friendly, scary, or any other number of things. This step is called cognition. The association with the object to another adjective is because of our past experiences. What we already know about the object affects what we feel about it when we see it this time. The third step to a reaction is the emotion that is a result of the first two steps. This can be fear, happiness, anger, or any other of the identified emotions. The process of stimulus, cognition, and emotion are the three steps we must go through between our first encounter with an object to our reaction to it. The three steps are rarely found on their own. The three are all done, for the most part, subconsciously and in little time. This shows the interconnected relationship between emotion and motivation.
The term “instinct” has troubled scientists for the last century. The idea of instinct was widely accepted as an explanation for our motives, emotions and behaviors, but starting in the early 20th century, the term instinct began to loose its validity. There were three main problems with the idea of instinct. The first reason is that when one begins to use instinct to explain our behavior, it means we will not look for scientific reasoning. Instinct becomes an excuse, and the true motivation behind it is not discovered. We call this a nominal fallacy, which believes that by simply naming something, it is somehow fully explained. This ignores the questions of “how” more importantly “why”, which are critical in an examination of any animal’s behavior. The second reason is that it leads one to believe that no previous experience would be needed to react in this way. Instinct becomes a universal action. Though many motives and emotions are rooted in our biology, at one point, those experiences had to be experienced. And even now, not all of our motives are connected to our biology. The third problem with instinct is that the term itself is too broad. There is no way to determine what is instinct because there is no way to determine how many instincts we have. Overall, the term instinct is confusing and misrepresents what is actually being experienced.
One of the greatest questions regarding motivation and emotion is how much of what we do is biological, what is learned, and if it can be both. As it has been found, almost all motivations are biological, and most of what we have discovered in the last century disproves the theory in SSSM, and supports the EEA. But all emotions and motivation can be put into two categories, biological and social. Some behaviors are biological, and some are learned. We tend to say now that all motives are equally biological. This does not mean they have equal importance simply that they are all the equal product of evolution.
The idea of basic emotions was influenced by the SSSM for many years, under the impression that there were only three basic emotions, and all others were learned throughout one person’s life. The three emotions were believed to be fear, rage and love. But through several studies, this idea has been rejected. It was found that across cultures, people react with the same facial expressions to the same stimulus. Though the various studies, researchers developed the idea of five basic emotions, with several others in question. But across cultural boundaries, all humans express anger, disgust, fear, happiness, and sadness. Awe, contempt, embarrassment, excitement, guilt, interest, shame, and surprise are eight other emotions that are possibly universal.
Elkman provided and explained nine criteria that made an emotion “basic”. The first is that there must be a distinct facial expression. This is the only visual clue we have to what a person is feeling when they are from another culture. The second is that it must be present on other primates. An emotion cannot be considered basic if only one group experiences it. There have to be many cultures across countries that experience that same sort of emotion and motivation. The third point of a basic is that there is distinct physiology. Point number four is that there must be a distinct cause. We cannot experience emotion and motivation at random, there are causes and affects. The next idea regarding basic emotions, it that the facial expression is not separable from the psychological response, the two are interconnected. Point number six is that the basic emotion takes a quick onset, it does not happen gradually, but instead on suddenly and quickly processed. The next idea is that the duration of this emotion is brief. The emotion comes suddenly, and then leaves fairly quickly as well. The basic emotion must take place with the person being unaware. The whole process is done quickly and without any need to conscientiously register any information. The last point is that it is an unbidden response.
Some basic emotions are easier to detect than others, this is because of the evolution of the emotion. For example, anger is easier to see than happiness. This is related to our biological need to survive. If an angry face was hard to see in another persons face, the possibility of danger increases. One may not realize the need to leave, or try to resolve the conflict. Happiness has less expressive because we do not need it to survive. Happiness is not an emotion that is key to our reproduction or survival rates; therefore, evolution did not need to associate the emotion with clear facial expression.
Social or learned emotions are not biological, but still prevalent. These emotions are developed through different experiences in ones life. One of the import understandings in evolution is that most of it is based in relationships. With cooperating with the other animals, the survival rate of the animal is small. An animal that does not like to associate with other animals will not reproduce or leave off spring. Social emotions promote cooperation which is necessary for our survival. Without this, we would walk through life without feeling the threat of repercussions or guilt. If we never felt threatened by the consequences of our actions, we would put our bodies at risk, and decrease the possibility or any animal wanting to reproduce with you. Some social emotions evolved to solve the problem of commitment. These emotions promote faithfulness; these emotions also serve as a sign of commitment. Both of those are important from a reproductive perspective. When one animal shows signs of affection that involve affection or a form of showing off a certain trait, there are called honest signals. These signals are important in the realm of social emotions.
Generally, we see a relationship between anger and guilt. A cooperative relationship isn’t necessarily within the bounds of love. Just experiencing the same emption is considered cooperative. But when we are no longer feeling the same emotion, one person begins to feel angry, and in tern, the second person experiences guilt. The fact that we go through this cycle of cooperation, deception, anger and guilt only proves how far we go to ensure our relationships eventually turn into a cooperative one. The person who punishes the other with the objective of making them feel guilty embodies moralistic aggression.
Two other important social emotions to explain are shame and pride. These are usually categorized separately from the basic emotions because they do not always have facial expressions to accompany them. Shame and guilt are sometimes argued to be the same emotions; many psychologists believe that the feelings associated with guilt and the feelings of shame are so closely related, that they could be considered the same. However, the two are distinctly different. Shame causes people to with draw from society. The person will retreat to a place and be alone. But guilt causes an opposite internal feeling. Guilt motivates those experiencing it to approach the other person. When one experiences shame, it tends to become universal to the person. They feel like they have failed entirely, that no aspect of their life is redeemable. Guilt causes people to focus on one part of their life; with guilt, the person is only wrong on one specific instance. Shame relates to the community whereas guilt relates to the person specifically. However the third important factor that is related to and influences guilt and shame is self-esteem. Self-esteem is a measure of ones worth, it is a measurement of our status within a society. In general, humans avoid exclusion, so self-esteem is a tool we use to try to overcome our insecurities around groups of people. With a high self-esteem the probability of experiencing guilt and shame degreases, and therefore the chance of reproduction increases.
The next step in understanding motivation and emotion is applying the terms to behavioral conflict. Conflict is usually considered undesirable; however it is unrealistic to attempt to avoid conflict throughout a lifetime. We experience conflict when our emotions are different, when there is a threat from plants, animals, or other people, or when there is a conflict of interest. The ways in which we solve conflict depend on the nature of the disagreement. Often there is a verbal discussion and resolution, but often people resort to violence to solve their problems. The severity and people involved influence the way in which the conflict will be solved. When two men are in conflict, they have increased levels of testosterone, which encourages aggressive behavior. Those who win often experience higher levels of testosterone, where as the losers usually have a decrease.
Homicide is one form of violent conflict resolution. On average, most of the people killing other people are men, but also the numbers of people being killed are men. So the issue at hand in men killing men. Conflicts arise over robbery, verbal disputes, money, jealous as well as many other things.