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Author Topic: Do emotions equate to instinct?  (Read 52510 times)

Offline Mr. Scientist

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Do emotions equate to instinct?
« Reply #25 on: 31/12/2008 11:50:29 »
I don't think emotions may necesserily equate to instinct. Though they may have very close relationships, studies of brain activity will show there is more to emotions than there is, dorment, mind-less ponderings of instinctive natures.
 

Offline Chemistry4me

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Do emotions equate to instinct?
« Reply #26 on: 31/12/2008 12:03:14 »
Our instincts are falling behind the animals because of all this technology that we live in today...
 

Offline Mr. Scientist

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Do emotions equate to instinct?
« Reply #27 on: 31/12/2008 12:12:18 »
Well, if animals don't experience emotions like we do, then they must have more powerful instincts. In fact, their entire daily drive [may] be straight down to pure instinct.
 

Offline GregBucket

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Do emotions equate to instinct?
« Reply #28 on: 31/12/2008 12:21:07 »
Backing up a bit, let's see... I think we're examining whether emotion is a part of the instinctive structure.  Whether, let's say, emotions are the various ways that various instincts presents themselves to us.

I don't know what feeling pain has to do with having a soul, but my dog feels pain.  He caught himself in the fence yesterday trying to get out.  He was trying to get through the fence to be with my sons.  Whether he 'wanted' to do that because his instincts told him to stay with his pack, or whether his emotions told him that he would not be happy unless he could get to the boys, I don't know.  In fact, that's the point here. What I'm really asking is if those two things are one and the same; the emotional carrot-on-a-stick is simply the way that the instinct presents itself.

Ants and worms?  Why include them in 'animals'?  Let's simplify for the moment and stick to mammals that we're familiar with, unless someone has a comment about something else.  Like birds, maybe.  Wait and see.

As for crude voices, why the adjective?  And why assume that the dog, or we humans, are really 'thinking' when lust is the issue?  The instinct to procreate is one of the most basic, and comes on dogs and us frequently.  The emotional upshot of the instinct is something we call 'lust' in ourselves when we're being crude, or 'amorous' when we're feeling more delicate.  We, or our dogs, might feel 'frisky' or 'lonely' or any of many other degrees that all lie along a spectrum of 'lustful'.   I use the word 'feel' very specifically there- it's an emotional state that manifests because the instinct to procreate is brought on by a stimulus.  In the case of Chemistry4Me's dog, the stimulus might be that he has seen, or more likely smelled, a female- possibly one in heat.  (Being in heat is a physical state of being ready to procreate, and the male's reaction to the scent would have evolved as an instinctive reaction, I guess.)  In the case of a human, the stimulus might be that a woman is wearing an attractive outfit, or has made eye contact or any of many signals to attract others.  Or, it might be that the male lives in the U.S. and is deluged by sexy images all day every day, and his libido is constantly firing off instinctive signals that equate to 'Me want my b****."

Hm... Mr. Scientist makes a very interesting point- Are instincts dormant or mindless?  That sounds like a fruitful line of thought.  I would have guessed that instincts are not only not dormant, but are real to us every day, as emotions.  I would have also guessed that instincts are intrinsic to 'mind', an inseparable part of what allowed us to evolve and survive until our brains added their 'higher' levels, and not 'mindless' per se.

Of course, maybe this is the basic supposition that I've gotten wrong, and the reason the theory wouldn't hold up.
« Last Edit: 31/12/2008 12:29:10 by GregBucket »
 

Offline Chemistry4me

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Do emotions equate to instinct?
« Reply #29 on: 01/01/2009 03:28:56 »
I don't know ???, all this discussion is making me even more confused than when we started... ??? [:I] [:I]
 

Offline GregBucket

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Do emotions equate to instinct?
« Reply #30 on: 01/01/2009 16:07:37 »
You're invited to blame all confusion on me if you like.

Cartoonists write better inside little balloons. 

Big boxes throw us off.
 

Offline Chemistry4me

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Do emotions equate to instinct?
« Reply #31 on: 02/01/2009 01:59:07 »
Cartoonists write better inside little balloons. 
Whats going on here ??? ??? Are you a cartonist?

Big boxes throw us off.
And I thought the last sentence was crazy ;D ??? ???
 

Offline GregBucket

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Do emotions equate to instinct?
« Reply #32 on: 02/01/2009 23:58:24 »
Yep.  Cartoonist.

Yep.  Crazy.


« Last Edit: 04/01/2009 01:49:54 by GregBucket »
 

Offline GregBucket

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Do emotions equate to instinct?
« Reply #33 on: 04/01/2009 01:49:23 »
Okay, got a little sidetracked there.  Yes, I'm a cartoonist.  It's a fun job.

Now, to try to get us back on track and simplify things. 

The theory (and if I remember right, a good theory is supposed to have three things going for it.  Something to do with making a prediction that can be tested and such.  Maybe we don't have a theory here yet, maybe it's just a hypothesis) is that humans have a broad spectrum of instincts.  Emotions are the way that our instincts present themselves to our conscious minds.  Humans also have lots of brain (lots and lots) devoted to higher functions.  Instinct and Reason are not always in agreement.  Reason (higher brain function) might tell us to take a chance when instinct (extremely basic and powerful brain function) tells us not to, or vice versa.  That conflict is often sized up in literature as 'good vs. evil'- the little devil and angel sitting on our shoulder.  For example- If a particular subject is not of a monogamous turn of mind, it's because his or her instinct prompts him or her into pursuing sex with people other than his or her spouse.  Reason will tell him (or her, you get the idea...) that this is not a good idea.  Being human and having the choice that a rat or dog does not, he might decide in favor of reason, and instinct, unfulfilled, will nag at him.  If he were to give in to that instinct, his reason would then nag at him.  This is the downside to having a complex mind developed evolutionarily over great lengths of time.  The conflict- and the meaning of emotion- has been written about, studied, made the subject of poetry and philosophy, and has inspired great art in every realm- and so we instantly reject the idea that emotion has anything to do instinct.  Instinct being a word that we have traditionally used for 'lesser' animals and rejected for ourselves and our high romantic notions of our emotions.

I would like to point out that I'm not advocating giving in to any emotion (instinct) just to shut it up.  What's the point of having a more complex brain than a dog if one acts no better than a dog?

Oof.  That ought to upset enough people to get the conversation back up and running.
« Last Edit: 04/01/2009 01:58:23 by GregBucket »
 

Offline Chemistry4me

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Do emotions equate to instinct?
« Reply #34 on: 04/01/2009 02:22:31 »
So now the word 'reason' is introduced into the arguement
What's the point of having a more complex brain than a dog if one acts no better than a dog?
Exactly
 

Offline Chemistry4me

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Do emotions equate to instinct?
« Reply #35 on: 04/01/2009 08:20:49 »
Have you actually got an answer from the Naked Scientists yet? Is it going to be on one of the podcasts?
 

Offline GregBucket

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Do emotions equate to instinct?
« Reply #36 on: 05/01/2009 17:47:19 »
Yep.  Reason was mentioned back in the ninth post, and a few time since.  Was I not supposed to mention reason?  I think it's valid to say that reason comes from higher brain function and instinct from lower, or more basic, brain function.  I could be wrong.  Also, I have no earthly idea what the vocabulary about this stuff is supposed to be.  'Higher' and 'lower' and 'brain function' are probably antiquated terms, as used by scientists back when they wore powdered wigs.

As for the podcast, here's all I've heard so far:

Thank you for the question you sent to us.  We are e-mailing you to let you know that it has been added to our list for inclusion in a forthcoming edition of The Naked Scientists Podcast.

In the meantime we have also published the question, on your behalf, on our discussion forum.  So far, it has received 4 comments from other forum members.

To see what they're saying, follow this link:

If you want to join in the discussion, you can use our quick registration system to obtain your own username by following the link below

We hope you find the answers helpful.

Thanks for supporting the Naked Scientists.

  The Naked Scientists Team


I suppose that means there's a chance it'll crop up on the podcast someday if they can find someone with an interesting answer.  Till then, we get to speculate as only amateurs and enthusiasts can, I reckon.  'Reckon' means I reasoned it out, I think.  At least, I think I think it.

 

Offline Emilio Romero

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Do emotions equate to instinct?
« Reply #37 on: 06/01/2009 18:30:23 »
I think freely that reasonable emotions are instinctive, or the other way around on the contrary ;) ;D
 

Offline GregBucket

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Do emotions equate to instinct?
« Reply #38 on: 06/01/2009 21:55:39 »
Absotively, yes.
Well spoken.
 

Offline Chemistry4me

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Do emotions equate to instinct?
« Reply #39 on: 06/01/2009 21:59:20 »
What do you meam by reasonable emotions, I am very interested to find out. :P
 

Offline GregBucket

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Do emotions equate to instinct?
« Reply #40 on: 07/01/2009 16:26:24 »
I thought he was kidding around.

I'd like to hear about reasonable emotions, too.

You're up, Professor Romero!
 

Offline Emilio Romero

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Do emotions equate to instinct?
« Reply #41 on: 07/01/2009 18:07:13 »
 ???
ooops.... eeeh... mmmmmm....
 [:I]
gulp....
Pun intended, sorry... I Hope I Didn't upset anybody....
Just kidding, truly sorry.

Emilio
 

Offline Emilio Romero

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Do emotions equate to instinct?
« Reply #42 on: 07/01/2009 18:08:42 »
Reasonably speaking, my emotion right now would be embarrassment...  [:I]
 

Offline GregBucket

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Do emotions equate to instinct?
« Reply #43 on: 07/01/2009 22:52:29 »
Well, see, that's a great point! 

What sort of instinctive prompting would cause embarrassment?  Is embarrassment an emotion?  Fascinating stuff.  Well done.
 

Offline Chemistry4me

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Do emotions equate to instinct?
« Reply #44 on: 08/01/2009 02:53:51 »
I saw this program on TV a while back and it was like a documentary, there were 20 people in a room (and they were all actors/actresses) and when they were shown the colour red (I can't quite remember the colours but it doesn't really matter) they were instructed to say that the colour was blue.
Then another person came into the room, this was not an actor and he presumed that the other people there were just random people. So everybody (the first 20) got shown the colour red and they all said blue, then it came to the new man, (they had some things attached to his head which lit up the parts of the brain that was being activated/working) and he also said that the colour was blue!
Which I thought was very interesting, surely his instinct immediately after seeing the red colour would tell him "red" but when he found all the other people saying that it was in fact blue, he reasoned with himself and changed his option. They tried this on many other subjects too and they found that some remained stubborn (or correct) and said red while others went with the majority and stayed with blue. But what they did find in all of their subjects was that the part of the brain responsible for (the emotion) fear was activated, and they presumed that the subjects felt fear because they wanted to fell like part of a group, even if it meant choosing the obviously wrong option.
 
 

Offline alansm

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Do emotions equate to instinct?
« Reply #45 on: 08/01/2009 09:33:26 »
Greg asked the Naked Scientists:

For years, I have assumed that emotions were the instinctive reactions to various stimuli, but lately I've been listening to your podcasts (along with various other sciency ones) and I haven't heard any scientists equate emotion and instinct.  How wrong have I been all this time?

What do you think?


I personally think that your initial supposition is fairly accurate.
Instincts are action tendencies based on feelings or emotions given a stimuli.
eg: A perceived threat is likely to gives rise to an emotion (fear or anxiety) This will trigger an 'instinctive' response to the threat with the brain preparing the body to run of fight. Adrenalin increased heart rate blood supply increased to the muscles, reduced where it isn't required,etc. This holds true whether the stimuli are real or imagined. Hence the thriving therapeutic industry that exists today. [:(!]

For a more detailed explanation on the development of instinct you might look at http://www.thenakedscientists.com/forum/index.php?topic=16535.msg0;boardseen#new
« Last Edit: 08/01/2009 09:51:00 by alansm »
 

Offline GregBucket

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Do emotions equate to instinct?
« Reply #46 on: 08/01/2009 14:01:09 »
Thanks for jumping in,, Alansm!  I was worried that no one else would post with us.

Chemistry4me's story reminds me of another one, which is apocryphal, but interesting nonetheless.

Say you have six chimpanzees in a room.  The room is outfitted with several boxes, and has a large bunch of bananas hanging from the ceiling.  The chimps will, in time, stack the boxes or themselves high enough to get to the bananas.  When they do, you turn a fire hose on them. (that's the part that makes me sure this story is apocryphal) and you repeat the punishment every time the chimps get close to the bananas.  Eventually, they quit trying to get the bananas.  Then you swap out one of the chimps for a new one.

The new one will, after a time, try to stack boxes to get to the bananas, whereupon the other chimps will set upon him and beat him up, lest the fire hose is turned on the group.  Soon, the new chimp shies away from the bananas.  Now, one by one, you trade out all the chimps, allowing intervals long enough for the new chimps to acclimate to the idea that the bananas are NOT to be messed with.

Eventually, you have six chimpanzees who have never had a fire hose turned on them, but will nonetheless attack any new ape that tries to get the bananas.

In the business world, this is the 'We've always done it this way' method of management.

It could no doubt apply to behaviors in other areas of life, too- social, political, familial, religious, scientific, anywhere there is an organized group, I suppose.

And it's off the subject.

Back to the emotions!

Alansm, I wonder if we're talking backward points.  It may be that- instead of a perceived threat setting off an emotion that sets off an instinctive response- a perceived threat (stimulus) sets off an instinctive response (fight or flight) which we sense as an emotion (fear, anxiety, distress) that will result in our fighting or fleeing.  The adrenaline increased heart rate, blood supply etc. is the physiological aspect of the reaction, the emotion is the neurological reaction and both are inextricable parts of the same reaction to stimulus.  And I don't like using the term stimulus, because I'll bet there's rarely ever just one stimulus, I bet when you examine responses, it's hard to isolate anything like that.  In other words you'd always want to use the plural stimuli, since there's always a lot of input involved, and therefore a lot of reaction involved.  Especially in the real world, the stimuli and their responses pile up.

I guess I should add that I'm not arguing that instinct/emotion is the only thing going on in a stimulus/reaction.  I've said before that we've got a lot of higher brain functions that go on, also.  So while your instinct might tell you to flee or fight, you're human, and you may reason that there's another way around the problem, and if you suppress your instinct, you can use that other way.  Of course, this sets your instinct to nagging at you, which sets up a lot more reactions, but that's another discussion thread entirely, isn't it?
« Last Edit: 08/01/2009 14:07:36 by GregBucket »
 

Offline Chemistry4me

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Do emotions equate to instinct?
« Reply #47 on: 08/01/2009 22:47:24 »
Are insticts pro-active and emotions are reactive?
 

Offline GregBucket

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Do emotions equate to instinct?
« Reply #48 on: 09/01/2009 14:17:47 »
Wow!  Nice question! 

What do you think?  This sounds like a rich vein to explore.  I hope you'll speculate with it a little.  I'll start:

My kneejerk reaction is that, what with the constant stimuli piling on, we'd have both active and reactive sets of instincts that set off lots of subtle variations along a spectrum of emotional responses.

Or, to be less wordy, "I guess 'Yes'."

I tried to come up with an example to illustrate with, but it turned into a lot of speculation.  See what you can do with it:  You're at home and utterly relaxed (instinct tells you you're free to do whatever you like), you're suddenly shocked to have a load of people jump out and yell surprise, (which sets off a fight-or-flight instinct) and then you realize that these are your friends and well-wishers (which sets off another instinct saying you're safe).  Your emotional state would go from baseline to alarmed to relieved to happy- I guess the instinctive states are reactive in this scenario, and the emotional states are, too.  The pro-active instincts might come in when you're faced with behaviors that you initiate- taking control of everyone's attention because you are instinctively an alpha character, or thanking everyone individually- you'd choose whom to speak to based on that group's pecking order (not consciously, maybe, you'd just 'feel' that it was most important to go search out someone special to you)

Whew.  All this is wild speculation on my part.

I sure do like your question though. 
 

Offline Emilio Romero

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Do emotions equate to instinct?
« Reply #49 on: 09/01/2009 23:37:43 »
And... where do relfexes enter this discussion???

 

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