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Pandemic and Normative Behavior

Title: EVOLUTIONARY BASES OF BASIC EMOTIONS AND THEIR ROLE IN NORMATIVE BEHAVIORS: An empirical-experimental study on the expression of emotions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Financial support: National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq)


Summary: This project aims to establish the role that the physiological constitution of social mammals, especially humans, plays in the expression of basic social emotions in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. The social nature of emotions in these relationships established in small groups will be investigated based on both empirical-experimental foundations and the role of expressive movements in the communication of social approval and disapproval in canids and social primates. Recent research has discussed how extreme conditions act as triggers for certain emotions. The problem arises when phenomena such as a pandemic create extreme conditions in which our moral judgments are distorted by a range of factors (prejudices, anxieties, and concerns about our own problems), hindering the manifestation of our moral agency. These moral failures add to the limitations of our natural condition (lack of knowledge, reasoning, and judgment), making our choices difficult. Regarding the study of emotional expressions, it will be conducted by presenting the general principles of emotions proposed by Darwin (2000) in combination with contemporary analyses developed by experimental psychology and behavioral biology on the subject. Building on the study of basic emotions developed by Ekman (1999), studies will be conducted to map expressive movements in social mammals in relation to basic emotions. The hypothesis is that if these principles are homologous across different species, it will provide strength to the evolutionary explanation of the relationship between emotions and social behavior, offering an empirically solid framework for understanding the dynamics of social cohesion within family units prompted by the pandemic context.