An emotional challenge: What can we infer about capacities for social emotions in archaic humans?

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Social emotions are central to human social lives, however whilst there has been much discussion about archaic human cognition in terms of analytical capacities, capacities in terms of social emotions are rarely discussed. A 'null hypothesis' of a lack of pro-social motivations is often assumed to be the most rational scientific perspective on how archaic humans felt towards each other. Over recent years accumulating evidence for complex social relationships in archaic humans argues against this null hypothesis however, leaving the issue of archaic human social emotions open to debate. Here we consider how to approach an understanding of capacities for social emotions in archaic species, reflecting on how social emotions are likely to have evolved and developing an evolutionary and cultural model of capacities for social emotions in archaic humans. We draw on archaeological evidence to explore what we can and can't interpret about how Neanderthals felt about each other.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 14 Apr 2018
EventSociety for American Archaeology - Washington, United States
Duration: 11 Apr 201815 Apr 2018


ConferenceSociety for American Archaeology
Country/TerritoryUnited States

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