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Evolution, Exchange and Coordination: Implications for Organizational Communication
Unformatted Document Text:  Evolution, Exchange and Coordination 6 equipped with, are designed to regulate the activation and deactivation of our specialized information- processing machinery. These emotions are cued “when a[n environmental] condition or situation of an evolutionarily recognizable kind is detected. [Specifically], a signal is sent out from the emotion program that activates the specific constellation of subprograms appropriate to solving the type of programs that were regularly embedded in that situation, and deactivates programs whose operation might interfere with solving those types of adaptive problem […] (e.g., a program that deactivates sleep programs when predator evasion subroutines are activated)” (Cosmides & Tooby, 2000, An evolutionary psychological theory of emotions, par. 1, 4).; see also Damasio, 1999). Emotions then, serve to regulate and enact our domain-specific information processing faculties. So far, this paper has outlined the principal tenets of an evolutionary outlook on human thought and behavior. Three assumptions are worth highlighting. First, this perspective suggests that all functionally specialized physiological and psychological adaptations are designed to promote a species’ self-interest (i.e., survival and reproduction). All such adaptations developed during a species’ EEA and are encoded at the genetic level (e.g., Dawkins, 1976). Albeit for somewhat different reasons, this notion is not inconsistent with long-standing view of human behavior – and communication - as intentional or strategic (e.g., Kellermann, 1992). Second, because our genes do much of our ‘thinking’ for us – our behavior needn’t occur within our awareness (Cosmides & Tooby, 1997). It is largely automatic (Gazzaniga, 1998, Kellermann, 1992). This is also tantamount to suggesting that we are not the rational decision makers we pretend to be (i.e., completely in touch with what prompts our actions), and that our reasons for acting the way we do may have little bearing on what really motivates us. Evidence from the field of neuroscience certainly suggests as much. As Gazzaniga (1998) reminds us, “by the time we think we know something – it is part of our conscious experience – the brain has already done its work […]. The brain finishes the work half a second before the information it processes reaches our consciousness” (p. 63). And, there is reason to believe that our interpretations for activities and events are really alignment moves, designed to keep our conscious thoughts consonant with our behaviors (e.g., Gazzaniga, 1998; Damasio, 1999, Festinger, 1957). Quite predictably, our interpretations are invariably made in the direction of promoting our self-interest, and not against it (Krebs & Denton, 1997). Finally, this perspective intimates that in order to understand human behavior and communication, then it is wise to examine the emotions that accompany them. This is because our thoughts and behaviors appear to be triggered by our emotions. Working with situation-detection and recalibration programs, it is emotions that prompt us to think and act the way we do (Tooby and Cosmides, 2000). The sorts of domain-specific information processing programs that emotions activate to facilitate human interaction will be the subject of the remainder of this paper. Specifically, what follows next is a

Authors: Teboul, JC. Bruno. and Cole, Tim.
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Evolution, Exchange and Coordination
6
equipped with, are designed to regulate the activation and deactivation of our specialized information-
processing machinery. These emotions are cued “when a[n environmental] condition or situation of an
evolutionarily recognizable kind is detected. [Specifically], a signal is sent out from the emotion program
that activates the specific constellation of subprograms appropriate to solving the type of programs that
were regularly embedded in that situation, and deactivates programs whose operation might interfere with
solving those types of adaptive problem […] (e.g., a program that deactivates sleep programs when
predator evasion subroutines are activated)” (Cosmides & Tooby, 2000, An evolutionary psychological
theory of emotions, par. 1, 4).; see also Damasio, 1999). Emotions then, serve to regulate and enact our
domain-specific information processing faculties.
So far, this paper has outlined the principal tenets of an evolutionary outlook on human thought
and behavior. Three assumptions are worth highlighting. First, this perspective suggests that all
functionally specialized physiological and psychological adaptations are designed to promote a species’
self-interest (i.e., survival and reproduction). All such adaptations developed during a species’ EEA and
are encoded at the genetic level (e.g., Dawkins, 1976). Albeit for somewhat different reasons, this notion
is not inconsistent with long-standing view of human behavior – and communication - as intentional or
strategic (e.g., Kellermann, 1992). Second, because our genes do much of our ‘thinking’ for us – our
behavior needn’t occur within our awareness (Cosmides & Tooby, 1997). It is largely automatic
(Gazzaniga, 1998, Kellermann, 1992). This is also tantamount to suggesting that we are not the rational
decision makers we pretend to be (i.e., completely in touch with what prompts our actions), and that our
reasons for acting the way we do may have little bearing on what really motivates us. Evidence from the
field of neuroscience certainly suggests as much. As Gazzaniga (1998) reminds us, “by the time we think
we know something – it is part of our conscious experience – the brain has already done its work […].
The brain finishes the work half a second before the information it processes reaches our consciousness”
(p. 63). And, there is reason to believe that our interpretations for activities and events are really
alignment moves, designed to keep our conscious thoughts consonant with our behaviors (e.g.,
Gazzaniga, 1998; Damasio, 1999, Festinger, 1957). Quite predictably, our interpretations are invariably
made in the direction of promoting our self-interest, and not against it (Krebs & Denton, 1997). Finally,
this perspective intimates that in order to understand human behavior and communication, then it is wise
to examine the emotions that accompany them. This is because our thoughts and behaviors appear to be
triggered by our emotions. Working with situation-detection and recalibration programs, it is emotions
that prompt us to think and act the way we do (Tooby and Cosmides, 2000).
The sorts of domain-specific information processing programs that emotions activate to facilitate
human interaction will be the subject of the remainder of this paper. Specifically, what follows next is a


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