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Evolved Cognition and Cultural Transmission of Honour Concepts

Journal article
Authors Andreas Nordin
Published in Journal of Cognition and Culture
Volume 13
Issue 1-2
Pages 111–127
ISSN 1567-7095
Publication year 2013
Published at School of Global Studies, Social Anthropology
Pages 111–127
Language en
Keywords Honour, culture, reputation, evolved cognition, institution
Subject categories Other Social Sciences, Sociology, Psychology


In many cultures people value the importance of honour and related rules and behaviours. Honour can be seen as concepts and cultural items represented and processed according to evolved cognitive capacities and emotions supported by local social institutional arrangements. Indeed, this article holds that one reasonable way to analyze honour is to model how cognitive processes and transmission biases work in tandem with institutional support and environmental cues to exert selective pressures on the cultural distribution and formation of honour. The scope of this article is theoretical, aiming to address and explain culturally recurrent aspects of widespread honour concepts. What evolved cognitive systems and selection factors underpin the cultural transmission of honour concepts and institutions? It will be argued that the transmission of honour concepts draws upon cognitive systems referring to male formidability, management of reputation, coalitions, costly signals, shame and stigma, concern for protectiveness and parental investments, essentialist understanding and disgust and on the cognition of institutions.

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