General Question

EtherRoom's avatar

Is fear really the oldest human emotion and why ?

Asked by EtherRoom (384points) April 24th, 2011

Is fear the oldest human emotion ? Why ? How do we know this was the oldest emotion ? Did love exist too ? I heard that fear is the oldest emotion, just wanted to know why.

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17 Answers

gmander's avatar

It sounds reasonable if you think that survival is the prime motivation. However, there is no way of really determining this. It’s just someone’s opinion.

antimatter's avatar

Lust, we have to make babies for our survival.

flutherother's avatar

If fear is the oldest emotion then at one time there must have been creatures whose only emotion was fear. I can’t imagine such a creature and so I don’t think this theory can be correct.

PhiNotPi's avatar

Fear being the first emotion. Sounds reasonable when I think about single-celled, asexual organisms. They had no need for love/lust, because they were asexual and could care less about conspecifics. Their concerns would be finding food and getting out of harm’s way, reproducing if possible. If they found food with photosynthesis, and reproducing was considered another part of life (they don’t need to look foward to it, they just reproduced because hardwired into their DNA), then fear could be the first emotion. If fear developed before herbivores and other consumers, then fear could be described as “the urge to immediately move somewhere other than its current location, due to intolerable conditions.” Intolerable conditions could be too hot, too cold, not enough sunlight, etc. Any organism with fear would have a large advantage over one that didn’t.

YARNLADY's avatar

I think fear is the name we use to describe the flight or fight response to a stimulus. It is not really “fear” as we currently know it.

seazen_'s avatar

I fear @YARNLADY ‘s wrath – I hope she took our little joke the right way?

YARNLADY's avatar

@seazen_ As you can see I am taking it very well.

seazen_'s avatar

I’m afraid to ask. I knew it – that link was scary.

lemming's avatar

I’d say love first so we would multiply and then fear.

jlelandg's avatar

Wouldn’t the first human emotion be “Shit, I’m naked” since that’s what separates us from apes? Unless you’re a creationist then it’s anyones guess.

Coloma's avatar

All of our most ‘primitive’ emotions are based on the survival of the organism.

When every moment you might be consumed by a Sabre tooth tiger or trampled by a Mastodon. lol

Even waaay back then I am sure there was some sense of either being a ‘have’ or a ‘have not.’ haha

Oooh…neighbor have bigger cave and lot of Mastodon meat, me have depression under rock and eat lizard eggs. Me pissed, me want MORE! lol

whitenoise's avatar

I would interpret the first ‘human’ emotion as to be the first emotion to be typically human. Seen that way, fear surely is not the first human emotion.

incendiary_dan's avatar

We’re a complex social ape evolved from a line of complex social apes. We’ve always had more emotions than just fear, because they’re required for our survival.

Hibernate's avatar

Dunno about this .. i tend to think curiosity brought other emotions first not only fear.

thorninmud's avatar

We have a pretty good understanding of the neurophysiology of fear. One tiny brain organ, the amygdala, is the brain’s fear center. Any creature that has an amygdala (an almond-sized organ located near the brain stem) in the brain appears to be subject to fear. Stimulate the amygdala of any creature and you get what sure as hell looks like a fear response. And creatures from which we diverged evolutionarily a very long time ago also have amygdalas. Even reptiles have amygdalas. The first amygdalas probably date to the time of the dinosaurs.

So yes, I think fear is the grandaddy of emotions, human or not.

blueiiznh's avatar

Also chatted about in a recent question is the core triune brain concepts of instinctual behaviors involved in aggression, dominance, territoriality, and ritual displays.

mattbrowne's avatar

Yes. Because the fight or flight response with adrenaline secretion is an ancient feature of fish, amphibians, reptiles and mammals.

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