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    Ritual and the origins of first impressions

    Over, H. and Eggleston, A. and Cook, Richard (2020) Ritual and the origins of first impressions. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 375 (201904), ISSN 0962-8436.

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    When encountering a stranger for the first time, adults spontaneously attribute to them a wide variety of character traits based solely on their physical appearance, most notably from their face. While these trait inferences exert a pervasive influence over our behaviour, their origins remain unclear. Whereas nativist accounts hold that first impressions are a product of gene-based natural selection, the Trait Inference Mapping framework (TIM) posits that we learn face-trait mappings ontogenetically as a result of correlated face-trait experience. Here, we examine the available anthropological evidence on ritual in order to better understand the mechanism by which first impressions from faces are acquired. Consistent with the TIM framework, we argue that examination of ritual body modification performed by communities around the world demonstrates far greater cross-cultural variability in face-trait mappings than currently appreciated. Furthermore, rituals of this type may be a powerful mechanism through which face-trait associations are transmitted from one generation to the next.


    Item Type: Article
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Science > School of Psychological Sciences
    Depositing User: Richard Cook
    Date Deposited: 08 Jan 2020 14:17
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 17:56


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