Emotions, Signaling and Strategic Coordination

Don Ross and Paul Dumouchel

This paper reviews some recent literature on emotions by economists and philosophers, especially Robert Frank and his critics. We endorse the general stance of this literature, according to which emotions evolved as devices for minimize incidence of social dilemmas. However, we reject the prevailing theory of emotions themselves, on grounds that it involves simplistic cognitive science and leads to mistakes in the associated game theory. In stead, we offer a view according to which the set of recognized emotional state-types is an evolved conventional signaling system, especially useful for conveying information about preference intensities in bargaining situations.


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