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A comparative approach to affect and cooperation


Massen, Jorg J M; Behrens, Friederike; Martin, Jordan S; Stocker, Martina; Brosnan, Sarah F (2019). A comparative approach to affect and cooperation. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 107:370-387.

Abstract

A central premise of the science of comparative affect is that we can best learn about the causes and consequences of affect by comparing affective phenomena across a variety of species, including humans. We take as a given that affect is widely shared across animals, but a key challenge is to accurately represent each species' affective experience. A common approach in the comparative study of behavior and cognition is to develop standardized experimental paradigms that can be used across species, with the assumption that if the same task is being used, we can directly compare behavioral responses. This experimental approach rests on two underlying assumptions: first, that different species' perception of and affective response to these paradigms are the same; and second, that behavioral and physiological (including endocrine and neural) responses to these paradigms are homologous; if either of these assumptions is not true, then the comparison becomes much less straightforward. Our goal in the present paper is to summarize the dominant paradigms that have been used for such comparative research, with a particular focus on paradigms common in the cooperation literature, and to critically discuss dominant assumptions about what affective states these tasks can or should measure. We then consider the advantages and drawbacks of this experimental method, and consider alternatives that may improve our understanding. We hope that this will help scholars recognize and avoid pitfalls inherent in studying affect, and stimulate them to create novel, ecologically relevant paradigms for examining affect across the animal kingdom.

Abstract

A central premise of the science of comparative affect is that we can best learn about the causes and consequences of affect by comparing affective phenomena across a variety of species, including humans. We take as a given that affect is widely shared across animals, but a key challenge is to accurately represent each species' affective experience. A common approach in the comparative study of behavior and cognition is to develop standardized experimental paradigms that can be used across species, with the assumption that if the same task is being used, we can directly compare behavioral responses. This experimental approach rests on two underlying assumptions: first, that different species' perception of and affective response to these paradigms are the same; and second, that behavioral and physiological (including endocrine and neural) responses to these paradigms are homologous; if either of these assumptions is not true, then the comparison becomes much less straightforward. Our goal in the present paper is to summarize the dominant paradigms that have been used for such comparative research, with a particular focus on paradigms common in the cooperation literature, and to critically discuss dominant assumptions about what affective states these tasks can or should measure. We then consider the advantages and drawbacks of this experimental method, and consider alternatives that may improve our understanding. We hope that this will help scholars recognize and avoid pitfalls inherent in studying affect, and stimulate them to create novel, ecologically relevant paradigms for examining affect across the animal kingdom.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Evolutionary Medicine
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
Life Sciences > Cognitive Neuroscience
Life Sciences > Behavioral Neuroscience
Language:English
Date:23 September 2019
Deposited On:15 Nov 2019 14:53
Last Modified:29 Jul 2020 11:48
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0149-7634
OA Status:Hybrid
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neubiorev.2019.09.027
PubMed ID:31557550

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