Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Todd M. Freeberg

Committee Members

Matthew A. Cooper, Gordon M. Burghardt, Mary L. Erickson, Garriy Shteynberg


Morality, as used within this dissertation, is conceptualized as having two distinct components – a shared, norm-based, cultural component and a subjective, character-based, emotion-based component. Using this dual-aspect model of morality, we examine the roots of morality using a comparative, 5th-Aim Ethological framework. This ethological framework was applied to study possible emotional states of the Carolina chickadees. Three experiments are presented which attempt to identify the most likely proximate emotion for the general call of the foraging chickadees. These studies examined food presence, food type and volume, and vocal cues of predator presence. Our data suggest that a homeostatic-related emotion is unlikely to be a significant proximate emotion for the general call of the chickadee in response to food discovery. A modest amount of evidence is also presented which suggests that threat-based motivation is not the dominant proximate emotion for the general call of the Carolina chickadee. In light of these findings, new motivational hypotheses are presented that may explain the subjective motivation elements preceding the chickadee call. We conclude with some scientific and philosophical parallels of our morality model, and some implications for the scientific investigation of morality.


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