Evolutionary aspects of love and empathy

Allott, Robin (1992) Evolutionary aspects of love and empathy. [Journal (Paginated)]

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Love has always been a central preoccupation in individual human lives, but there has been little consideration of it by psychologists or other scientists and little attempt to explain it as an evolutionary phenomenon. There are various possible behavioral precursors of love: animal "love", empathy, group feeling, sexuality, the mother/infant bond. The principal candidates are sexuality and the mother/infant bond. Sexuality has been favored as an origin by those few writers who have discussed the issue but has characteristics which distinguish it sharply from love and make it an unlikely precursor. However, the mother/infant bond alone does not fully account for the characteristics of human love. Love evolved as the outcome of interaction between the genetic basis for mother/infant attachment and other capabilities of the evolving human manifested in and made possible by the increase in human brain- size: enlarged cognitive capacity, improved communication abilities and the evolution of language. The capacity for language led to the emergence of the conscious self, and with this the capability to recognise and empathise the selfhood of others. The deepening of the mother/infant attachment into love played, and still plays, an essential role in the transmission of culture from one generation to the next and in making possible the cohesion of the human group. This account fits well with recent research into the process and significance of the mother/infant relation.

Item Type:Journal (Paginated)
Keywords:love, empathy, evolution, sexuality, neural
Subjects:Biology > Sociobiology
Biology > Evolution
Psychology > Evolutionary Psychology
ID Code:3392
Deposited By: Allott, R M
Deposited On:06 Apr 2004
Last Modified:11 Mar 2011 08:55

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