Comparative Affective Science: The Intersection of Biology and Psychology

24 - 28 July 2017

Venue: Lorentz Center@Snellius

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Description and Aim

For social species, the expression of emotions and the recognition of conspecific’s emotions is key to their survival. Sending clear signals about one’s internal state allows for conspecifics to direct their behaviour in appropriate ways and calibrate more efficiently to the environment. Efficient and accurate emotion detection is part of the critical process that allows organisms to determine who is friend, and who is foe. Biologists and psychologists both recognize the importance of understanding individuals’ internal states and experiences– but generally use divergent methods, language, and conceptual frameworks to study them. Further, linguistic differences in the meaning and use of terminology related to emotion that is inherent in the context of cross-cultural collaborations provides an added complication to the variation in approaches across intellectual disciplines. As a consequence, research that is produced often fails to sufficiently integrate concepts and frameworks from both biology and psychology across the cultural contexts in which researchers are working.   The goal of this workshop is to address just those challenges – in a workshop format that is built around time for discussion, debate, and thinking as a group.   To that end, this workshop will feature short talks by biologists and psychologists on four key questions: “What does it mean to be well? How do we measure that in animals? which animals? and can and should we avoid anthropomorphism?”  Each talk session will be followed by comments from a moderator and then a structured session for discussion in small groups.  Our ultimate goal is to produce a paper, or series of papers, that address the core questions from multiple perspectives, providing a way forward for the field of animal emotion.


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