Genuine versus Deceptive Emotional Displays

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference Contribution (Conference Proceeding)


    This chapter contributes to the explanation of human cooperative behaviour, examining the implications of Brian Skyrms’ modelling of the prisoner’s dilemma (PD). Augmenting a PD with signalling strategies promotes cooperation, but a challenge that must be addressed is what prevents signals being subverted by deceptive behaviour. Empirical results suggest that emotional displays can play a signalling role and, to some extent, are secure from subversion. I examine proximate explanations and then offer an evolutionary explanation for the translucency of emotional displays, by which I mean that visible displays are well, but imperfectly, correlated with genuine emotional episodes. Natural selection acts on the basis of lifetime fitness consequences and, crucially for my argument, the intensity of selection decreases over the course of a lifetime. Hence we tend to possess traits that promote survival when young and, with regard to emotional displays, translucency allows successful maturation over our protracted period of nurturing by close kin. This is due to the vital role played by emotional interactions in the normal cognitive and social development of Homo sapiens.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationEPSA Philosophy of Science: Amsterdam 2009
    EditorsHenk de Regt, Samir Okasha, Stephan Hartmann
    Place of PublicationDordrecht
    PublisherSpringer, Dordrecht
    Number of pages12
    ISBN (Electronic)978-94-007-2404-4
    ISBN (Print) 978-94-007-2403-7
    Publication statusPublished - 2011


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