How Does Evolutionary and Personal History Affect Behavior?

Question:

How does evolutionary history and personal history affect behavior? Provide an example. What is emotion? In what types of social settings might an individual observe the following emotions: sadness, anger, disgust, nervousness, and happiness? What is the relationship between emotion and motivation? Provide an example.

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Response:

Evolutionary history and personal history are both internal sources of motivation, which overlap at the point of behavior. Evolutionary history comprises the genetic inheritance passed down through the generations, adapted by natural selection, and expressed through our physiology, psychology, and emotions (Deckers, 2005). On the other hand, personal history is that internal source of motivation which is derived from our experiences, from conception forward. Evolutionary history affects behavior through our genetic predispositions and innate emotions, such as sexual differentiation. Personal history is the face of experience in our motivations, such as musical preferences based on past experiences. The English word emotion comes from the Latin emovere, which means to move on. In this context, the word emotion is not so much a feeling, but a sentiment that leads to action. This is of course counter to what I have always thought. I have had feelings that do not lead to action. Any thoughts anyone…

In the analogy of the bow and arrow, emotions might be the variety of arrows that the bowman has at his disposal. The act of experiencing an emotion might then be the act of taking the arrow out of the quiver and placing it on the bow’s string. No potential energy has been expended, or rather compressed, but the will to action has been initiated. I don’t know. It makes sense in my head. 

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References

Deckers, L. (2005). Motivation: Biological, psychological, and environmental, Second Edition. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon. 

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