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Culture and Cognition

A collection of critical essays

Edited By Shamsul Haque and Elizabeth Sheppard

The past few decades have seen a huge increase in global interest in psychology, with more psychologists, psychology programmes and students than ever before. Culture and Cognition: A collection of critical essays is made up of chapters written by experts in each topic, and is aimed at those wishing to learn more about psychology. While culture and cognition have frequently been regarded as separate areas of study in psychology, this book brings together essays on both of these topics as well as several that consider the direct interplay between culture and thinking.
Essays focus on a range of fascinating topics, such as how culture affects memory for events in our own lives or our perceptions of human attractiveness. Essays also address a diverse range of psychological phenomena like déjà-vu, savant abilities, non-suicidal self-injury, theory of mind, problem gambling and sleep disorders. Socio-cultural and professional issues specifically within the Asian context are also discussed.
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Healthy body, healthy face? Evolutionary approaches to attractiveness perception

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The human face contains a large amount of observable information about the bearer, providing cues to age, sex, ethnic group and emotional state. Observers also make spontaneous judgements about more apparently subjective attributes, such as how attractive they consider the face to be. Recent developments in evolutionary psychology suggest that these perceptions of attractiveness may not be so subjective after all, and may in fact reflect aspects of the underlying health and fertility of the bearer. In order for a cue to health to be valid, however, it must both relate to the actual health of the bearer and be perceived as healthy and/or attractive by observers (Coetzee, Perrett & Stephen, 2009; Fig. 1). In this chapter, we will introduce the theoretical approaches to attractiveness research, and discuss the evidence for health cues in the face and agreement and variation in face preferences.

Theoretical approaches to attractiveness research

Most people will have heard the proverb “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, which implies that attractiveness is somewhat arbitrary and subjective. This opinion was adopted by Darwin in his Descent of Man, where he writes “the men of each race prefer what they are accustomed to” (Darwin, 1871), implying that preferences are learned from the social environment, and imprinted on those faces we see around us during development. In the 20th century, feminist thinkers adopted this theme, with Naomi Wolf suggesting in The Beauty Myth that female beauty was arbitrary, socially constructed and...

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