Abstract

Why is the comic-book superhero such a persistent topic of cultural representation? Citing Dutton’s evolutionary aesthetic, we argue that comic-book superheroes persist because they offer a cultural means of negotiating the gap between the small group size that human beings have evolved a cognitive architecture to deal with, and the much larger group size that is entailed by modern social arrangements. This position implies four predictions: the superhero should (1) exhibit punitive prosociality, (2) be supernatural or quasi-supernatural, (3) be minimally counterintuitive, and (4) display kin-signaling proxies. These predictions are tested against seventeen superhero figures from various comic-book universes.

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. A195-A215
Launched on MUSE
2014-11-13
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.