Deterrence and transmission as mechanisms ensuring reliability of gossip

Spreading information about the members of one's group is one of the most universal human behaviors. Thanks to gossip, individuals can acquire the information about their peers without sustaining the burden of costly interactions with cheaters, but they can also create and revise social bonds. Gossip has also several positive functions at the group level, promoting cohesion and norm compliance. However, gossip can be unreliable, and can be used to damage others' reputation or to circulate false information, thus becoming detrimental to people involved and useless for the group. In this work, we propose a theoretical model in which reliability of gossip depends on the joint functioning of two distinct mechanisms. Thanks to the first, i.e., deterrence, individuals tend to avoid informational cheating because they fear punishment and the disruption of social bonds. On the other hand, transmission provides humans with the opportunity of reducing the consequences of cheating through a manipulation of the source of gossip.

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Springer, Berlin , Germania
Cognitive processing (Print) 13 (2012): 465–475. doi:10.1007/s10339-011-0421-0
info:cnr-pdr/source/autori:Giardini, Francesca/titolo:Deterrence and transmission as mechanisms ensuring reliability of gossip/doi:10.1007/s10339-011-0421-0/rivista:Cognitive processing (Print)/anno:2012/pagina_da:465/pagina_a:475/intervallo_pagine:465–47
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