Fear can keep you alive: Why we need ‘negative’ emotions

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Image: Fotolia

Are negative emotions all bad? Should we really try to get rid of them? After all, we figure that thumbs are useful because we evolved to have them over millions of years, and that tails are not because we evolved to lose them over time. So, if negative emotions have stuck around this long, shouldn’t there be some good reason to have them?

Well, you’re a homo erectus living on the Savannah a million years ago, and you’ve just caught sight of a saber tooth tiger hiding behind a bush.


So, is fear useful? It’s literally life-saving! Even in today’s human world, where there are fewer saber tooth tigers lurking behind bushes, fear still helps us to survive. We get goose prickles when walking down a dark alley at night. We think twice about risky decisions. And we back off when someone comes at us with a threatening expression.

Related article:  Why the quest to create 'super babies' is a 'fool's errand'

It seems like fear is not only a useful emotion for our individual survival. It’s also an emotion that may help keep the whole tribe peaceful. If all of us were literally fearless, all of us could be psychopaths, and that sounds like a truly dangerous situation.

Read full, original post: Why Negative Emotions Aren’t All Bad

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