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  • Linkovski lab

Beyond uncertainty: A broader scope for incentive hope mechanisms and its implications

Updated: Jan 12

We propose that food-related uncertainty is but one of multiple cues that predict harsh conditions and may activate incentive hope.


An evolutionarily adaptive response to these would have been to shift to a behavioral-metabolic phenotype geared toward facing hardship. In modernity, this phenotype may lead to pathologies like obesity and hoarding.


Our perspective suggests a novel therapeutic approach

Our perspective suggests a novel therapeutic approach. Anselme and Güntürkün (A&G) provide a thought-provoking and insightful synthesis of ideas from traditionally disparate fields. We largely endorse it, but suggest that the evolutionary scope in which incentive hope mechanisms are adaptive is far broader than proposed by A&G: Food-related uncertainty is but one of multiple factors that may trigger incentive hope. Their common characteristic is the anticipation of harsh conditions, in which it would be adaptive for an organism to shift to behavioral and metabolic phenotypes that prepare it for hardship, such as food shortage. Expanding the theory’s scope leads to novel predictions regarding human behavioral ecology, cognition, and mental health.

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