From moods to modules: Preliminary remarks for an evolutionary theory of mood phenomena

Abstract

In the past few decades, research in the psychology of emotion has benefited greatly from being located in a firm evolutionary framework. It is argued that research in the psychology of mood might attain equal rigour by taking a similar approach. An evolutionary framework for mood research would be based on evolutionary psychology, the main thesis of which is the Massive Modularity Hypothesis. Translating the folk-psychological language of moods into the scientific language of modules might clarify many theoretical questions and provide a sound basis for empirical research. It is argued that such an evolutionary approach would reveal mood to be a much more heterogeneous category than emotion. While the six basic emotions identified by Paul Ekman are probably each subserved by a single module, prototypical moods such as elation, depression, anxiety and irritability are likely to be subserved by a wide range of modules. An evolutionary approach to mood might therefore lead to the elimination of the concept of mood from scientific psychology altogether.

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Dylan Evans
London School of Economics (PhD)

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