CANCELLED: BHRI Seminar Series - David Huron, Ph.D., Ohio State University

This event already has occurred.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020 -

4:00pm to 6:00pm



David Huron, Ph.D., Academy Professor Emeritus and Distinguished Professor

School of Music & Center for Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Ohio State University

Emotion: Insights from Ethology

Existing theories of emotion are plagued by a number of problems. People commonly smile when stressed, laugh when in a state of fear, and weep at weddings. Although anger is usually regarded as a negative emotion, research suggests that people enjoy the feeling of righteous indignation. Current confusion has led to widespread dissatisfaction with evolutionary-oriented theories and a concommitant appeal of social constructivist views.

This presentation describes recent breakthroughs applying ethological signaling theory to emotion. The purpose of an ethological signal is to transform the behavior of the observer. Accordingly, emotion researchers have been looking at the wrong person: the common denominator in affective displays is not the emotional state of the displayer, but the evoked behavior of the observer. We show how an ethological approach is able to account for many apparent puzzles and paradoxes, such as the weeping of beauty pageant winners. Compared with existing theories, ethological theory offers a more comprehensive, parsimonious, and biologically plausible account of emotion and affective-related displays.


The mission of the Brain Health Research Institute is to foster and support collaborative research leading to innovative discoveries about the brain that ultimately improve the health of our communities and beyond.