Skip to main content
padlock icon - secure page this page is secure

On the reliability of unreliable information: Gossip as cultural memory

Buy Article:

$29.93 + tax (Refund Policy)

When individuals learn from what others tell them, the information is subject to transmission error that does not arise in learning from direct experience. Yet evidence shows that humans consistently prefer this apparently more unreliable source of information. We examine the effect this preference has in cases where the information concerns a judgment on others’ behaviour and is used to establish cooperation in a society. We present a spatial model confirming that cooperation can be sustained by gossip containing a high degree of uncertainty. Accuracy alone does not predict the value of information in evolutionary terms; relevance, the impact of information on behavioural outcomes, must also be considered. We then show that once relevance is incorporated as a criterion, second-hand information can no longer be discounted on the basis of its poor fidelity alone. Finally we show that the relative importance of accuracy and relevance depends on factors of life history and demography.
No Reference information available - sign in for access.
No Citation information available - sign in for access.
No Supplementary Data.
No Article Media
No Metrics

Keywords: cooperation; gossip; reputation; social norm

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2016

More about this publication?
  • Social Behaviour and Communication in Biological and Artificial Systems
  • Access Key
  • Free content
  • Partial Free content
  • New content
  • Open access content
  • Partial Open access content
  • Subscribed content
  • Partial Subscribed content
  • Free trial content
Cookie Policy
Cookie Policy
Ingenta Connect website makes use of cookies so as to keep track of data that you have filled in. I am Happy with this Find out more