C. Colin Holbrook


C. Colin Holbrook

Department of Anthropology

Research Interest

My work intersects emotion, categorization, unconscious threat-detection, and evaluation processes, especially processes involved in moral reasoning. I apply an evolutionary perspective to these questions which emphasizes disentangling genuine psychological adaptations from functionally useful by-products. My doctoral research investigated the impact of unconsciously perceived threat cues on ratings of incidental aesthetic or ideological stimuli in Tibet, Northern Ireland, and the United States. The findings supported a novel reframing of ‘worldview defense’ as a by-product of background alarm rather than content-dedicated adaptive systems. Other projects have examined the rationales used to justify or condemn inflicting physical harm, folk concepts of intentionality in moral versus amoral contexts, the psychobiology of parental precaution against potential threats to offspring, and the role of lactation in disinhibiting defensive maternal aggression. Current studies focus on the influence of pride, disgust, anger and fear on factors such as moral judgment, perceived formidability, risk appraisal and resource entitlement.

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