Many basic and everyday emotions have an origin that is somehow comprehensible from an evolutionary perspective, i.e. regarding situations which they originally were related to and originated from:

  • happiness – "(joy of) having (found) food"
  • sadness – "(sorrow about) not having (enough) food and diing from starvation"
  • greed – "(greed for) having food" (experienced when spotting it)
  • fear – "(fear of) getting killed by a predator" (experienced when spotting it)
  • disgust – "(aversion against) getting killed by poisonous plants"

What I wonder about is:

Which everyday emotion (today) is most strongly related to the feeling a predator experiences when spotting its prey?

Some remarks:

  • Among predators this is a rather common situation.

  • Preys – when spotting a predator – experience simply fear.

  • The feeling is different from mere "(joy of) having found food", which can also been experienced when spotting a green meadow as a grazer. (Note: The meadow won't run away.)

  • The feeling is different from mere "(greed for) having food".

  • In German, there is the common word "Jagdfieber" ("hunting fever"), but it doesn't describe an everyday emotion today.

  • 2
    For a praying mantis, it has to be prayerful.
    – Mick
    Dec 3, 2017 at 19:29
  • 2
    Anticipation. . .
    – Xanne
    Dec 3, 2017 at 22:41
  • 1
    While blood-lust sounds best to me, it's not exactly a common emotion. Perhaps excitement, thrill, desire?
    – KumaAra
    Dec 4, 2017 at 0:59
  • 2
    My cat experiences exhilaration or if that's too strong, excitement. Dec 4, 2017 at 5:20
  • 1
    If we're sticking to describing it as a basic emotion, I would refer to it as (non-sexual) lust. Lust always manifests as an intense desire for the object. Indirectly, the desire for the object derives from the (expected) happiness of acquiring the object, but then we're delving into multidimensional emotions and chemical psychology.
    – Flater
    Dec 4, 2017 at 13:53

1 Answer 1


Based on my observations of working herding dogs, I would have to say "happiness", "joy", or "joyful focus". My herding dogs do the work they do out of a human-modified behavior pattern (instinct). What they feel when they do this is obviously joy and happiness. Their desire to pursue prey is so rewarding to them it beats any food treat I can come up with.

In the case of herding dogs, they are a predator, and they exhibit predatory behavior, but because that predatory behavior is truncated and modulated, we can easily and readily observe their response. Of course, dogs can't talk, so is their exhibition of behavior typical of happiness mean that they are happy? Some people argue that dogs don't smile!

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.