Thursday, 19 May
18:00 Welcome Reception
Friday, 20 May
9:00-10:00 Carlos Crivelli: Beyond WEIRD affective science
Are affective scientists really committed to overcoming narrow sampling? Which theoretical, methodological, and logistic factors prevent affective scientists from developing a less WEIRD-centered affective science? In this talk, I will identify and critically evaluate the major challenges that we face when planning a research project in non-WEIRD societies, potential solutions, and the impact that this type of research has on our WEIRD theories of emotion.
10:00-11:30 Poster session & coffee break
11:30-12:30 Disa Sauter: Emotion preparedness: The foundation of emotional expressions
We all have emotions, but where do they come from? In this talk, I will present evidence that some emotional states are associated with discrete, innate expressions. I will draw on investigations of vocal expressions of emotions in non-human primates and congenitally deaf individuals, as well as across different cultures. Emotional vocalisations, like other aspects of emotions, are adaptations that have evolved to help us deal with recurring challenges and opportunities, and are modulated by learning. I will argue that our understanding of what emotions are should include a functional perspective centred around emotion preparedness.
14:30-15:30 Alan Fiske: We Don't Know Our Emotions
People think and talk about emotions to varying degrees and in various ways in different cultures. But people label their emotions inconsistently and very loosely. Emotion labels in any one language do not map well onto emotion labels of other languages. Moreover, people experience emotions they don’t recognize. Unrecognized emotions need not be ‘repressed;’ some are subjectively salient. My colleagues and I are studying one such emotion, kama muta, that is pervasive across cultures and contexts, and sometimes very intensely felt. It may have great impact on the person experiencing it, it informs and modulates fundamental social relations, and it underlies a great many major social practices. Yet until ten years ago virtually no one recognized it and it was not well conceptualized. Kama muta does not correspond to any one distinctive vernacular lexeme in any language we’ve studied, and people sometimes can’t think of any word for it. Hindi-Urdu, Arabic, and Bikol apparently don’t have any specific, distinctive word for kama muta. This is one indication that people – including emotion researchers like myself – lack anything close to a complete or correct taxonomy of emotions. One implication of this is that emotion research cannot rely on people’s reports, labels, or ratings of their emotions.
15:30-17:00 Poster session & coffee break
17:00-18:00 Lawrence Ian Reed: The Communicative Functions of Facial Expressions
Previous research suggests that some facial expressions of emotion serve a communicative function by signaling private feelings and action tendencies. Further, some expressions such as smiles and scowls affect receivers by increasing the credibility of accompanying verbal and/or written statements. Here, I will discuss the credible signaling hypothesis and the evidence in support of it. This will include a discussion of experiments using economic games to create strategic situations in which facial expressions of emotion might benefit signalers and receivers. These experiments test whether a signaler’s emotional expressions increase the credibility of promises, threats, claims of danger, and assurances of trustworthiness. The results speak to the hidden strategies behind spontaneous and deliberate expressions and their effects on receiver’s behavior.
Saturday, 21 May
9:00-10:00 Guillaume Dezecache: Fear contagion and mass panic? What fear does to crowds
Fear is thought to be a highly contagious emotion, such that it is conducive to mass panic, whereby each crowd member experiences intense fear and maximizes their own survival at the expense of others. However, more than fifty years of research have depicted crowds facing deadly threats as calm and orderly. In this talk, I will discuss what fear does to crowds by evaluating the claims that (i) fear is contagious, (ii) that it can lead to ‘mass panic’, and (iii) that it promotes self-preservative behavior. I will also try to sketch an alternative view, whereby the experience of fear leads to the production of alarm signals (‘alarm calls’) and quickly promotes allo-oriented behaviors, such as mobbing and collective defense, as typically observed in a number of nonhuman species.
10:00-11:30 Poster session & coffee break
11:30-12:30 Debra Lieberman: Intuitions regrading physical leverage in preverbal infants
Past research has demonstrated that preverbal infants have a rich understanding of the social world that unfolds during the first few months of life. One particular developmental trajectory relates to inferences regarding dominance. Whereas 8-month-old infants reveal few expectations regarding the relationship between physical size and social leverage, by 13 months of age, infants increasingly expect smaller agents to physically defer to larger agents. If infants expect different physical outcomes when larger and smaller agents interact, it raises the question of whether infants also expect different emotional outcomes. Evolutionary cognitive scientists have found that physical formidability is indeed linked with the expression of different emotions that serve the purpose of improving the manner in which others regard the self. Whether these self-motivated states are matched with the emotions other individuals expect one to express is a question that has yet to be addressed in young children. In this talk, I present preliminary data that tested the hypothesis that preverbal infants expect different emotional reactions from large versus small agents when the goals of those agents come into conflict. I then flesh out the program of research currently underway that aims to determine the expectations infants hold regarding the influence of physical leverage (or lack thereof) in social interactions.
14:30-15:50 Young researchers' presentation
15:50-16:30 Coffee break
16:30-17:30 Zanna Clay: The expression of emotions and empathy: Evolutionary Insights from great apes
As highly social species, humans and other great apes have evolved rich socio-emotional and cognitive capacities that enable them to navigate their complex social worlds. This includes sophisticated ways to produce, perceive and express emotional states, as well as to effectively respond to those of others. Given that cognition and emotions do not fossilise, our closest living relatives, the great apes, provide a particularly relevant window through which we can explore how our emotional capacities evolved. This includes empathy, the capacity to share and understand others’ states. Despite empathy being a hallmark of our species, comparative research suggests that empathy has deep evolutionary roots, not only within the primate lineage, but also beyond. In this talk, I will discuss research that examines great ape emotional processes, their relation to humans, including young children, and what insights this provides into the evolutionary basis of Hominid emotionality.
18:00 Social event
Sunday, 22 May