Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

Living Edition
| Editors: Todd K. Shackelford, Viviana A. Weekes-Shackelford

Evolution of Emotion in Social Context

Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_2459-1



Human emotion evolved – that is, came to be via natural selection – in an inherently social context; human emotions are therefore not separable from their social nature.


While it is widely recognized that there is an important interplay between emotions and human social life, the social mechanisms by which emotions came to be via natural selection are not often considered. Extant theorizing on the evolution of emotions (hereafter referred to as EvoEmo) has traditionally focused on the modular cognitive or neural architecture that produces a small set of emotions, which are believed to serve discrete functions in the service of reproductive fitness (Cosmides and Tooby 2000; Tooby and Cosmides 2008). In these modular views, social functions are either not addressed or are just one type of function that may be important for reproductive success. Importantly, however, such modular theories are not the...

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychology, California National Primate Research CenterUniversity of CaliforniaDavisUSA
  2. 2.School of Psychology, University of New South WalesSydneyAustralia

Section editors and affiliations

  • Carey Fitzgerald
    • 1
  1. 1.University of South Carolina – BeaufortBlufftonUSA