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The Ascent of AffectGenealogy and Critique$
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Ruth Leys

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226488424

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226488738.001.0001

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A World without Pretense?

A World without Pretense?

Alan J. Fridlund’s Behavioral Ecology View

Chapter:
(p.220) Chapter Five A World without Pretense?
Source:
The Ascent of Affect
Author(s):

Ruth Leys

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226488738.003.0006

This chapter focuses on Alan J. Fridlund's critique of Ekman's Basic Emotion Theory. One reason for the success of Ekman's theory is that it appears to solve the problem of deception in everyday life by suggesting that expressions have evolved to convey accurate information to others about our internal emotional states. On this model, although we are able to disguise our feelings through the voluntary management of our facial signals, under the right conditions the emotional truth of our inner states will betray itself. It is on the basis of this model that Ekman has played an influential role in federally-funded post-9/11 surveillance research. Ekman's goal is to ameliorate fears about our own tendencies to dissimulate, by providing a technological means by which authentic facial expressions can be reliably distinguished from false ones. In opposition to Ekman, and based on experiments demonstrating the influence of context and audience on emotional expressions, Fridlund denies that emotions can be divided up into a limited set of affect programs or categories. On Darwinian principles, he offers instead an intentionalist, ethological or "behavioral ecology" account of human and non-human animal behavior that challenges the entirety of Ekman's neurocultural model of the emotions.

Keywords:   audience effects, Janet Bavelas, Behavior Ecology View, Richard Dawkins, deception, display rule thesis, Paul Ekman, facial displays as intentional movements, the new ethology, solitary expressions

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