Contempt Expression Relativity Thesis

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Hence Cosmides and Tooby's startling conclusion: "our modern skulls house a stone age mind." While not, strictly speaking, "presentist," this view freezes human emotions (and other responses) into one form-the form that we have today and that was formed during the prehistoric era.

[13] Scholars have confronted these studies in two main ways: by critiquing the experiments (of psychologists) and the assumptions (of the evolutionists) that have produced the universalist/presentist positions; and by asserting the social constructionist theory of emotions.

Genetic researcher Catherine Hayes and her colleagues, meanwhile, found that carriers of the Huntington's disease (HD) gene were impaired in the facial expression of disgust.[5] Similarly, Marco Battaglia and his co-researchers associated certain genetic variations with the variable ability of young children to correctly interpret "other children's facial expressions of emotions."[6] It is true that some neurobiological and genetic studies have nothing to do with facial expressions.

However, this does not obviate their generally universalizing tendencies.[7] Almost all such studies are also inclined to be "presentist"; they suggest that today's emotions were the emotions of the past and will remain those of the future.[8] Evolutionary psychologists have the potential to challenge this view.

"Normal" people are expected not only to express these emotions as they are expressed in Ekman's photographs but also to correctly see and interpret these emotions on the faces of others.

Thus, some psychologists associate mental abnormalities with an individual's failure to correctly identify emotions from Ekman's prototypes.[3] In the last ten years or so, neurobiologists and geneticists have added their techniques to such studies.

The subject was then asked to choose from among three photographs of faces the one that best expressed that emotion.

For example, for "happiness," Ekman's assistant told the subject the following story: "His (her) friends have come, and he (she) is happy." As Sorenson observed, "It was likely that at least some responses were influenced by feedback between translator and subject ...

In this paper, I propose that we study the emotions of the past by considering "emotional communities" (briefly: social groups whose members adhere to the same valuations of emotions and their expression).

I argue that we should take into consideration the full panoply of sources that these groups produced, and I suggest how we might most effectively interpret those sources.


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