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Emotion Perception in Hadza Hunter-Gatherers

  • Gendron, Maria;
  • Hoemann, Katie; 140689;
  • Crittenden, Alyssa N;
  • Mangola, Shani Msafiri;
  • Ruark, Gregory A;
  • Barrett, Lisa Feldman;
Publication Date
Mar 02, 2020
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It has long been claimed that certain configurations of facial movements are universally recognized as emotional expressions because they evolved to signal emotional information in situations that posed fitness challenges for our hunting and gathering hominin ancestors. Experiments from the last decade have called this particular evolutionary hypothesis into doubt by studying emotion perception in a wider sample of small-scale societies with discovery-based research methods. We replicate these newer findings in the Hadza of Northern Tanzania; the Hadza are semi-nomadic hunters and gatherers who live in tight-knit social units and collect wild foods for a large portion of their diet, making them a particularly relevant population for testing evolutionary hypotheses about emotion. Across two studies, we found little evidence of universal emotion perception. Rather, our findings are consistent with the hypothesis that people infer emotional meaning in facial movements using emotion knowledge embrained by cultural learning. / status: published

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