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Drama (on television, film or stage) is the most popular of all modes of fictional cognition. Drama consists of direct representation of a fictional social network in which characters have conflicting desires. It is dominated by two main genres: tragedy, which generally concerns status competition, and comedy, which generally concerns the process of mate selection. I argue that the evolved mind is intrinsically interested in information about the attempts to maximise fitness by individuals in the surrounding group. This is because such information is useful for optimising the individual's own behaviour. In particular, the strategies of others with regard to status attainment and mate selection impinge directly on our fitness and so have strong attention-grabbing power. I argue from analyses of Twelfth Night and Richard III that comedies and tragedies appear well designed to exploit these informational biases of the mind. This may explain the enduring appeal of the genres.

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Journal of Cultural and Evolutionary Psychology
Language English
Size  
Year of
Foundation
2003
Publication
Programme
changed title
Volumes
per Year
 
Issues
per Year
 
Founder Akadémiai Kiadó
Founder's
Address
H-1117 Budapest, Hungary 1516 Budapest, PO Box 245.
Publisher Akadémiai Kiadó
Publisher's
Address
H-1117 Budapest, Hungary 1516 Budapest, PO Box 245.
Responsible
Publisher
Chief Executive Officer, Akadémiai Kiadó
ISSN 1589-5254 (Print)
ISSN 1589-7397 (Online)

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