The Translational and Comparative Affective Science Team’s primary research goal is to understand the biological and evolutionary mechanisms that generate individual variation in affect and emotion.
We conduct “womb-to-tomb” affective science, studying the biology of emotion across the lifespan from fetal development into old age.
Our work adopts a “Psychological Constructivist” view that theorizes that discrete emotions like happiness, sadness, anger, and fear, emerge from fundamental psychological and biological ingredients, many of which are present in non-human animals. We study the emergence of these ingredients across ontogeny (developmental time) and phylogeny (evolutionary time). Our research program investigates the ingredients of emotion in multiple species (e.g., nonhuman primates, marine animals, ungulates, humans) from their birth into adulthood using methods ranging from neuroscience, psychology, systems science, and behavioral biology ranging from neuroanatomical studies to experience sampling.
Our work is “translational” because we study animals and humans together to understand how human emotion works. Our work is “comparative” because we study animals as compared to humans to understand how emotion has evolved.