Building on the foundation of commitment theory (Frank, 1988; Nesse, 2001), a new proxy theory of emotions posits that emotions promote adaptive relational action that tends to create and sustain important social relationships. The theory indicates that emotions are immediate motivational proxies for the long-run expected adaptive value of relationships and relational strategies. Emotions motivate action that is likely to improve a person's social prospects, given his or her history and situation. The theory predicts that emotions correspond to cultural implementations of four basic relational models, modulated to reflect the relationships that are important and problematic in each person's specific local network. Proxy theory analyzes twelve social functions of emotions reflecting the state of a person's relationships, his or her relational needs and prospects, and promising relational strategies.
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