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Author Topic: Do emotions equate to instinct?  (Read 52442 times)

Offline Chemistry4me

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Do emotions equate to instinct?
« Reply #50 on: 10/01/2009 05:01:52 »
And... where do reflexes enter this discussion???
Absolutely no idea!  :)
 

Offline Chemistry4me

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Do emotions equate to instinct?
« Reply #51 on: 10/01/2009 05:11:19 »
I hope you'll speculate with it a little. 
I am yet to think of a good example! I'll try my best to though.
To tell you how I got this idea, I was watching a game of cricket (you might be familiar with it) and the commentators were talking about good captains who are very pro-active in placing their fieldsmen on the park, they said that a good captain will trust his instincts and place a fieldsmen somewhere or change a bowler or something like that, and often this change will work in their favour. Then there is the other types of captains, the reactive ones, the ones who do the changes when the ball is being spanked around all over the park (in other words, they make the changes once the horse has bolted). So that got me thinking and I thought the words they used were quite appropriate for this discussion so I posed the question.
 

Offline GregBucket

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Do emotions equate to instinct?
« Reply #52 on: 10/01/2009 13:59:23 »
Interesting!  Yeah, I suppose that different people, different times, and different sets of stimuli would result in different actions- whether we're talking about instinct or about trained, rational action. 

Here's an entertaining speculation:  The pro-active captain's instincts spur him to move or change his players at one point in the game while another captain's instinct might lie quiescent until a different set of stimuli occur.  But probably more important than the spur to action (instinct) is the captain's knowledge and experience (rationality)

Man, I'm way out of my league here.  I hope they use the question on the podcast pretty soon, or we'll rewrite all the behavioral sciences books.
 

Offline Emilio Romero

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Do emotions equate to instinct?
« Reply #53 on: 10/01/2009 14:17:17 »

[/quote]
good captains who are very pro-active in placing their fieldsmen on the park, they said that a good captain will trust his instincts and place a fieldsmen somewhere or change a bowler or something like that
[/quote]

Would that be "instinct" or logical/intelligent reaction to statistics??? Thus, good reasoning...
??
 

Offline GregBucket

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Do emotions equate to instinct?
« Reply #54 on: 10/01/2009 18:03:57 »
I finished my previous post and ran off to my son's basketball game.  On the way there I had more time to think about it and I decided that it was probably less 'instinct' than training and good reasoning, yeah.  But it was an interesting point to examine.  I figure that our own vocabulary gets in the way occasionally.  Especially in the case of sports, we talk about players' and coaches' 'instincts' when that term probably doesn't apply very well.  It might be fair to back up and say that one person or another has the stronger instinct to compete in the first place, or even a disproportionate instinctive drive to win (to dominate, to be the alpha)- I know of some very driven competitors who will irrationally sacrifice anything for a win- but directing players on a field is probably more a strategy/reason game than an instinctive one.

On to the next complication:
How much is our subconscious driven by instinct?  None at all?  Completely? Bits here and there?
Or
Have I been arguing 'instinct' this whole time when it would have been easier and more correct to simply say 'subconscious'?

In other words, we might say that all our emotional responses come from our subconscious, and humans no longer really have instincts the same way that animals do.  That then begs the question, do animals have a subconscious?  If so, do they have emotional responses that come from their subconscious?

All this is fun, but I get the feeling that I'm just piling up vocabulary words.  I don't have any background in any of this, and I don't think that pop culture and the current state of the U.S. educational system has prepared me to discuss these subjects.

Not quittin' though. 
 
 

Offline Emilio Romero

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Do emotions equate to instinct?
« Reply #55 on: 10/01/2009 19:38:26 »
.... and just now Freud is in the picure...
subconscious...
this is fun
 

Offline Chemistry4me

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Do emotions equate to instinct?
« Reply #56 on: 11/01/2009 02:01:50 »
Well to be honest I don't think we are getting anywhere but as you saide, it is fun! Just something else on sport, imagine that you were watching a really good game of table tennis and the players are moving all over the place and hitting shots from all around the table, many commmentators talk about tactics and working shots around the table until you are in position to hit a winner. But I don't think the players hardly have time to 'think' about where they are going to place their shots, I mean they have between 0.1-0.2 seconds to react, this is where I think the 'subconsciousness' comes in to play (no pun intended!) The player's shots are totally driven by the subconsciousness during a rally because that is how they have been trained.
 

Offline GregBucket

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Do emotions equate to instinct?
« Reply #57 on: 12/01/2009 17:11:27 »
Hey, do dogs have an instinct to track other animals, or is that learned behavior?

Assuming that it's an instinct to put your nose to the ground and follow a scent (assuming also that you're a dog), then how does the instinct present itself to the dog?  What prompts him to want to do this?  Is it an unstoppable desire?  Is it a plain irresistible compulsion?  Is it a simple 'curious' feeling? Nagging sense that nothing is right until the instinct is followed up on? Idle whim? Does the dog have the 'feeling' that he can quit any time, or is this like an obsessive/compulsive disorder?

In humans, would obsessive/compulsive disorder be considered an instinct run amok?  Something overactive in the ol' brain stem?

Whattaya think?

I can't believe that we've gone on this long without someone claiming I'm a heretic or infidel.  That's the plus side of posting on a science forum, I reckon.
Just to put that in context, I was called 'blasphemous' for having created this cartoon:  http://comics.com/the_buckets/2008-12-21/ [nofollow]
 

Offline Chemistry4me

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Do emotions equate to instinct?
« Reply #58 on: 12/01/2009 22:27:35 »
The one with the manger? I can't tell which speech bubble starts first! Or who is talking.
then how does the instinct present itself to the dog?  What prompts him to want to do this?  Is it an unstoppable desire?  Is it a plain irresistible compulsion?  Is it a simple 'curious' feeling?
Does a wild dog do that, or do only domestic/trained dogs do that?
 

Offline GregBucket

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Do emotions equate to instinct?
« Reply #59 on: 12/01/2009 22:59:41 »
Yes, the one with the manger.  Who is talking and in what order wasn't critical to the humor, only what was being said and in what context.

As for the idea that it's a blasphemous cartoon, any time you do a cartoon that deals directly with people in a religious setting, the newspapers get letters.  There are always people that believe that church should always be treated with absolute reverence.  I always imagine that those folks are older women who've never raised kids.  Don't ask me why, I just do. Same kind of people write to complain when I have the teenager in the strip sticks his tongue out.

Wild dog or domestic?  Good question.  Never occurred to me.  I guess I was thinking of domestic, but I assume that wild dogs track by scent, too. 

Speaking of which, here's my favorite aphorism (because I made it up, so far as I know)  "The assumptions you don't know you're making do you the most harm." 
So I was assuming that all dogs follow scents, when really I have no idea.  In fact, I'm assuming all kinds of crazy stuff with this theory. 

Let's pick it apart some more and see what it really means!




 

Offline Chemistry4me

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Do emotions equate to instinct?
« Reply #60 on: 12/01/2009 23:19:37 »
but I assume that wild dogs track by scent, too. 
I think they're just hungry and its a way to look for food, i.e, tracking down other animals.
 

Offline GregBucket

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Do emotions equate to instinct?
« Reply #61 on: 13/01/2009 14:35:47 »
Exactly. 

So where does the behavior come from?  Is it hard-wired in the brains of canids?  Or is it learned behavior, from seeing other dogs?  Or is it such a simple task that it occurs to every dog everywhere?
 

Offline Chemistry4me

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Do emotions equate to instinct?
« Reply #62 on: 14/01/2009 00:00:07 »
Is it hard-wired in the brains of canids? Or is it such a simple task that it occurs to every dog everywhere?
I am inclined to think so.
 

Offline GregBucket

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Do emotions equate to instinct?
« Reply #63 on: 14/01/2009 11:35:36 »
Hm...  I wasn't thinking of those two things as the same.  I figured that a hard-wired action was an instinct, but a task being so simple that any dog would stumble on it was somehow a lucky chance of environment or something.

Trying to point that out, though, I've begun to wonder- if a behavior is that easy to 'invent' for every dog, maybe it's an aspect of instinct anyhow. 

Or were you trying to say something else?  That there's no reason that dogs couldn't all stumble on the idea of following scents to food, and that a dog that didn't do so wouldn't necessarily be at a disadvantage.  Instinct need not be involved if there's a behavior that dogs just 'do' because it's effective?

This IS getting entertaining, isn't it?
 

Offline Chemistry4me

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Do emotions equate to instinct?
« Reply #64 on: 15/01/2009 00:51:02 »
I am afraid your usage of vocabulary is very perplexing, thus I cannot fully grasp what you are trying to say.
 

Offline Chemistry4me

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Do emotions equate to instinct?
« Reply #65 on: 15/01/2009 00:51:46 »
What is emotive and what is instinctive?
 

Offline GregBucket

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Do emotions equate to instinct?
« Reply #66 on: 15/01/2009 01:58:39 »
I think I've stretched to my limit, and I'm not being very clear.  I never considered this idea in such depth before.

In that last post, I wasn't talking about 'emotive' at all.  Your good questions have me trying to define what might be instinctive and what might not be, now.

Like I said, it's very entertaining.  And, like I've said before, I'm in way over my head here, so I'm just merrily speculating.





 

Offline Chemistry4me

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« Reply #67 on: 16/01/2009 05:54:49 »
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 about it now that we've been discussing it?
 

Offline GregBucket

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« Reply #68 on: 16/01/2009 18:04:14 »
Hey!  Now THAT's a good question!

I'm sure there are some who see it differently, but to my mind, we haven't discussed anything that refutes the idea that emotions are the way we perceive our own instincts and their various promptings. 

It may be more fair to say that the underlying premises of the hypothesis haven't been challenged yet.  It may be most fair of all to say that I have no background whatsoever in the subject and I'm way off base in both the underlying premises and the basic hypothesis through my own sheer ignorance.

I'm having fun rolling it around with everyone though, and I certainly have appreciated your input so far, Chemistry4me.  I wish we could get some folks with neurological or biological or biophysiological or whatever the proper educational/professional category it is to comment here.  It would be really helpful to have someone post who has a current working knowledge of the subject, it's structure, and the correct vocabulary.  I await future Naked Scientist podcasts with excitement and trepidation.  Excitement because we'll get to learn something new, but trepidation because this discussion thread will bite the dust. 

What about you?  Any of your underlying premises been challenged?
 

Offline Chemistry4me

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« Reply #69 on: 17/01/2009 00:16:42 »
What about you?  Any of your underlying premises been challenged?
Well, I am not sure that I've had an underlying premises to begin with!
Do you think that the answer to your question "do emotions equate to instincts" is a definite no or yes (if you had to choose one)?
 

Offline GregBucket

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« Reply #70 on: 17/01/2009 13:19:09 »
Not have a set of underlying premises?  That sounds like an assumption you don't know you're making. (see previous posts for my favorite aphorism)

I have no idea whether there could be a definite 'yes' or 'no' answer.  Like I said, I have no background in the field.  There can easily be some freshman or sophomore information that completely negates me even asking such a ridiculous question and I wouldn't have the slightest idea.  My degree is in Graphic Design.  And while writing and drawing cartoons forces one to become a careful observer of human behavior, it doesn't earn anyone an education in brain function.  Even if the question is valid, I'm sure there'll be opinions on both sides- and probably a few in the middle- such is the nature of academia. 

If I had to guess, I suppose that it's a crackpot hypothesis.  If I had to fantasize, I suppose that it would inspire some behavioral psychologist to write a paper for 'Nature'.

Mostly, I'm wondering- assuming they finally use the question on the podcast- what field the answer will come from. 
 

Offline Chemistry4me

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Do emotions equate to instinct?
« Reply #71 on: 18/01/2009 05:26:10 »
Yes, I think that my brain is running out of ideas, fast. I think a mere mortal like me will never be able to explain and understand such things :). But that's the reason why I'm here: to learn things :)
 

Offline GregBucket

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Do emotions equate to instinct?
« Reply #72 on: 20/01/2009 21:48:37 »
Well, emotions are running high here in the U.S., what with an incoming president saying lots of inspiring things. 

Knowing that, I'm not sure what kind of instinctive prompting might be at work to produce the soaring elation of his supporters or the simmering fear of his detractors- some kind of 'them' and 'us' satisfaction based on feeling 'at home' within the group in power?  An emotion of happiness because one senses oneself rising in the pecking order versus an emotion of discomfort when one feels that his or her place in the pecking order is dropping?  I have no idea.  Fun to speculate, though.

I had been kicking around the idea of again examining 'anger' and 'fear' as an emotional reaction to having your 'fight or flight' instinct triggered, but I'll leave that to you to speculate on positively or negatively, as you wish.  What do you think?
 

Offline Chemistry4me

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Do emotions equate to instinct?
« Reply #73 on: 20/01/2009 23:24:19 »
I think anger is an emotion, definitely. But fear, I am not so sure... I guess if you were to 'fight' you could be angry and if you were to 'flight' it would be because you feared something, right? However, can't you also 'fight' and be fearful at the same time? Is fear not what drives you during times of stress? Whereas I doubt you would be 'flighting' in anger, I see no reason to. Do you?
 

Offline GregBucket

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Do emotions equate to instinct?
« Reply #74 on: 22/01/2009 17:55:51 »
Good point, though I may not be getting your entire meaning.

I heard something recently that would have me re-evaluating parts of the theory.  A historian was commenting that the Australian Aborigines and the North and South American Native peoples (that he split into three groups by different arrival times) didn't have cultures with the sorts of pecking order that I was taking for granted as an instinctive human behavior.  That's the sort of lynchpin information that would help me give a definite 'yes' or 'no' to the original question I posed.  If behavior that I assumed was instinctive turns out to be cultural, then emotions wouldn't be tied inextricably to instinct, but possibly to culture.

 Of course, it might be argued that various cultures would express different instincts in different ways, and that differences in culture might in fact stem from differences in core instinctive drives, but I wouldn't argue for or against that.  I thought my little idea was plenty big enough.  Trying to tie Culture, Expression of genetic code, and instinct all together will take a braver soul than I, and it'd take a few university degrees, too, I bet.


 

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