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Genetics of Psychological Well-BeingThe role of heritability and genetics in positive psychology$
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Michael Pluess

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199686674

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199686674.001.0001

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Evolution and well-being

Evolution and well-being

Chapter:
(p.56) Chapter 4 Evolution and well-being
Source:
Genetics of Psychological Well-Being
Author(s):

Bjørn Grinde

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199686674.003.0004

The chapter offers an introduction to evolutionary theory and presents a model for the evolutionary trajectory that led to a species where positive and negative feelings are core ingredients of life. Briefly, the primary purpose of nerve cells is to orchestrate behavior. As a rule of thumb, behavior implies either approach (to take advantage of benefits) or avoidance (to escape danger). While these two options were originally hard-wired, feelings offered an improvement in the adaptability of response. Positive and negative feelings, for respectively approach and escape, allow animals to weigh behavioral options with a “common currency” aimed at optimizing mood value. The brain’s mood modules are responsible for the positive or negative aspect of feelings, and their net output can be construed as the level of happiness. Recent studies suggest that these modules converge on shared neural circuits. Darwinian Happiness is about how to improve their output.

Keywords:   Darwinian Happiness, evolution, positive feelings, negative feelings, approach, avoidance, mood modules, mood value

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