Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

Living Edition
| Editors: Todd K. Shackelford, Viviana A. Weekes-Shackelford

Human Ornamentation

  • Rachael CarmenEmail author
  • Haley Dillon
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_1894-1



The deliberate or purposeful additions to the human body/anatomy, including clothing choice, jewelry, and various forms of body modification.


Humans have always showed a propensity toward ornamenting ourselves. From an evolutionary perspective, ornamentation leads to unique gains in the mating market – allowing individuals the ability to bolster their appearance to potential partners by using environmental cues. Ornamentation can exist in a multitude of forms; clothing, jewelry, and even tattooing/piercing the body. Yet, all forms of ornamentation share one very important criterion in common: they are all cultural artifacts. Much of our evolutionary history has deep cultural roots across the world. The mechanisms of evolution shape many of our behavioral tendencies, including our capacity for culture and cultural artifacts (i.e., the way we ornament ourselves).

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Marist CollegePoughkeepsieUSA
  2. 2.Dominican CollegeOrangeburgUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Gary L Brase
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychological SciencesKansas State UniversityManhattanUSA