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Feelin' Good...And Then Some: A Functional Evolutionary Approach to Positive Emotions in Sport

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Sport is a widespread phenomenon across human cultures and history. Unfortunately, positive emotions in sport have been long vaguely characterized as happy or pleasant, or ignored altogether. Recent emotion research has taken a differentiated approach, however, suggesting there are distinct

Sport is a widespread phenomenon across human cultures and history. Unfortunately, positive emotions in sport have been long vaguely characterized as happy or pleasant, or ignored altogether. Recent emotion research has taken a differentiated approach, however, suggesting there are distinct positive emotions with diverse implications for behavior. The present study applied this evolutionarily informed approach in the context of sport to examine which positive emotions are associated with play. It was hypothesized that pride, amusement, and enthusiasm, but not contentment or awe, would increase in Ultimate Frisbee players during a practice scrimmage. Further, it was hypothesized that increases in pride and amusement during practice would be differentially associated with sport outcomes, including performance (scores, assists, and defenses), subjective social connectedness, attributions of success, and attitudes toward the importance of practice. It was found that all positive emotions decreased during practice. It was also found that increases in pride were associated with more scores and greater social connectedness, whereas increases in amusement were associated with more assists. The present study was one of the first to examine change in positive emotions during play and to relate them to specific performance outcomes. Future studies should expand to determine which came first: emotion or performance.

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2014-05

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Friendship Jealousy: An (Overlooked) Emotion for Friendship Maintenance?

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Friendships make us happy, keep us healthy, and can even facilitate our reproductive fitness. But most friendships are not forever—even when we want them to be. How do people maintain valued friendships? I propose that “friendship jealousy” arises when people

Friendships make us happy, keep us healthy, and can even facilitate our reproductive fitness. But most friendships are not forever—even when we want them to be. How do people maintain valued friendships? I propose that “friendship jealousy” arises when people perceive others as posing threats to valued friendships, and that this response can function to prevent friendship loss and friend defection. In preliminary experiments, I tested predictions derived from this functional view. As predicted, I found, first, that friendship jealousy is calibrated to friend value. Second, friendship jealousy predicts intentions to “friend guard” (i.e., engage in behavior to protect the friendship). Third, friendship jealousy has sex-differentiated features, which are consistent with sex differences in friendship structures and ancestral friendship functions. The present work pits against one another intuitive and functional predictions as to what drives friendship jealousy. Although intuition might lead one to expect greater jealousy when a friend spends more time with a new person, a functional view suggests greater jealousy when that new person threatens to fulfill the same function for one’s friend that one is currently fulfilling (i.e., to “replace” him/her). Preliminary studies revealed that greater friendship jealousy is evoked when friends form new same-sex friendships (which presumably pose greater replacement threat, but lesser time threat) versus new romantic relationships (which presumably pose lesser replacement threat, but greater time threat). The focal experiment explicitly and experimentally manipulates a version of “replacement threat” (whether the best friend “chooses” the new friend over you) and “time threat” (how much time the best friend spends with the new friend). In line with functional predictions, the amount of time the best friend spends with a new friend drives friendship jealousy—but only when direct information about replacement threat is unavailable. Regardless of the time threat posed, participants report high friendship jealousy when replacement threat is high, and low friendship jealousy when replacement threat is low. Results imply that friendship jealousy is calibrated to replacement threat (over time threat). Overall, findings suggest that friendship jealousy might be a functional response aimed at facilitating friendship maintenance.

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2018

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Does Genetic Conflict Contribute to Pregnancy Complications and Postpartum Health and Behavior?

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Pregnancy is often described as one of the most cooperative ventures that a woman can experience in her lifetime. But when one considers the biological changes that occur during pregnancy, it becomes clear that pregnancy is not as cooperative as

Pregnancy is often described as one of the most cooperative ventures that a woman can experience in her lifetime. But when one considers the biological changes that occur during pregnancy, it becomes clear that pregnancy is not as cooperative as it seems on the surface. The current research uses a genetic conflict framework to predict how underlying conflict between mother and fetus over resource transfers is expected to alter eating behavior and food preferences, and how these changes in eating behavior and preferences should then be associated with certain pregnancy complications. Across two studies, women who had recently had a baby (Study 1) or were currently pregnant (Study 2) recalled changes in their eating behavior during pregnancy as well as any pregnancy complications they experienced during that pregnancy. Providing partial support for the hypotheses, women who reported increased vomiting in response to maternal-favoring foods were more likely to experience preeclampsia during pregnancy. In addition, the results provided preliminary evidence that changes in pregnancy eating behavior were associated with an increased the likelihood of experiencing high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, and infections during pregnancy. Taken together, these studies show that the framework of genetic conflict makes testable predictions about the relationship between eating behavior in pregnancy and pregnancy complications, and that several pregnancy complications that are relevant to genetic conflict (high blood pressure, pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, and infection) are associated with changes in eating behavior in pregnancy. Future research should continue to investigate how genetic conflict influences the relationships between pregnancy eating behavior, pregnancy complications, and how these associations impact postpartum health.

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2022