A Functionalist Manifesto: Goal-Related Emotions From an Evolutionary Perspective Academic Article uri icon


  • Functional theories posit that emotions are elicited by particular goal-related situations that represented adaptive problems and that emotions are evolved features of coordinated responses to those situations. Yet little theory or research has addressed the evolutionary aspects of these theories. We apply five criteria that can be used to judge whether features are adaptations. There is evidence that sadness, anger, and anxiety relate to unique changes in physiology, cognition, and behavior, those changes are correlated, situations that give rise to emotions are consistent, and emotions are complex. To date, there is little experimental evidence regarding whether discrete emotions resolve adaptive problems and do so relatively efficiently. Evidence supporting all criteria is required to claim that discrete emotions are evolved features.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 0.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Lench, H. C., Bench, S. W., Darbor, K. E., & Moore, M.

citation count

  • 42

complete list of authors

  • Lench, Heather C||Bench, Shane W||Darbor, Kathleen E||Moore, Melody

publication date

  • January 2015