Handbook of Categorization in Cognitive Science (Second Edition): Chapter 46 - Why Do We Think Racially? Culture, Evolution, and Cognition

Elsevier, Handbook of Categorization in Cognitive Science (Second Edition), 2017, Pages 1135-1175
Edouard Machery and Luc Faucher

Contemporary research on racial categorization is mostly encompassed by two research traditions—social constructionism and the cognitive-cum-evolutionary approach. Although both literatures have some plausible empirical evidence and some theoretical insights to contribute to a full understanding of racial categorization, there has been little contact between their proponents. In order to foster such contacts, we critically review both traditions, focusing particularly on the evolutionary/cognitive explanations of racial categorization. On the basis of this critical survey, we put forward a list of 11 requirements that a satisfactory theory of racial categorization should satisfy. We conclude that despite some decisive progress, we are still far from having a complete theory of why humans classify people on the basis of skin color, body appearance, or hair style.