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Heightened fearfulness in infants is not adaptive

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 May 2023

Marissa Ogren
Affiliation:
Department of Psychology, Rutgers University, Newark, NJ 07103, USA marissa.ogren@rutgers.edu; https://www.childstudycenter-rutgers.com/; vlobue@psychology.rutgers.edu
Lisa Feldman Barrett
Affiliation:
Department of Psychology, Northeastern University, Boston, MA 02115, USA l.barrett@northeastern.edu; https://www.affective-science.org/ Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02215, USA Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, Massachusetts General Hospital, Charlestown, MA 02129, USA
Katie Hoemann
Affiliation:
Department of Psychology and Educational Sciences, KU Leuven, 3000 Leuven, Belgium katie.hoemann@kuleuven.be
Vanessa LoBue
Affiliation:
Department of Psychology, Rutgers University, Newark, NJ 07103, USA marissa.ogren@rutgers.edu; https://www.childstudycenter-rutgers.com/; vlobue@psychology.rutgers.edu

Abstract

Grossmann proposes the “fearful ape hypothesis,” suggesting that heightened fearfulness in early life is evolutionarily adaptive. We question this claim with evidence that (1) perceived fearfulness in children is associated with negative, not positive long-term outcomes; (2) caregivers are responsive to all affective behaviors, not just those perceived as fearful; and (3) caregiver responsiveness serves to reduce perceived fearfulness.

Type
Open Peer Commentary
Copyright
Copyright © The Author(s), 2023. Published by Cambridge University Press

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