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Reputation in Evolution
 

Reputation in Evolution

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  • I thank Mario for this invitation: I am honored to be the first speaker at this nice conference, I must confess, I am also concerned by such a responsibility. However, since most of the serious things will be said by the other invited speaker and during the paper sessions, I somehow feel free to start with more speculative considerations, concerning the role that reputation might have had in the evolution of our species social organization. So this is what the topic will be about. I am afraid however that anyone in the audience who might expect updated evidence will be strongly disappointed. Rather, i will suggest possible alternative explanations of existing data to those presently offered, as no consistent account has been given so far.

Reputation in Evolution Reputation in Evolution Presentation Transcript

  • Reputation in Evolution Rosaria Conte LABSS/ISTC-CNR ICORE, Gargonza, Italy March 18-20, 2009
  • The problem
    • How explain cooperation if nonreciprocators are better-off within the group?
    • Solutions are usually found in social control. But why agents carry on and sustain its costs?
    • Previous theory (Conte and Paolucci, 2002) defined reputation as reported-on evaluation (human intelligence)
    • Here, speculations about how this theory of reputation can help in answering that question.
  • Outline
    • Strong Reciprocity (SR) as one example of social control. Open questions
    • Tasks in social control
    • Transmission of social evaluations and its impact on efficiency of social control
    • Social cognitive theory of reputation and expected impact of reputation transmission on social control
    • Examples of reputation transmission from ethnographic descriptions
    • Conclusions and questions still open.
  • Strong Reciprocity
  • Hypothesis and simulation evidence
    • Since 1999, Evolutionary GT (EGT) has put forward and tested by means of simulation the idea that the evolution of altruism was made possible in human societies (prehistoric hunterer-gatherers) by
    • Strong Reciprocators carry out and sustain the costs of punishing nonreciprocators.
    From Bowles and Gintis, 2003)
  • Open questions
    • Like theory of 2nd-order cooperation (Heckathorn, 1987; Oliver, 1993; Horne, 2007),
    • SR leaves some questions open:
    • By definition, costs of punishment < costs of cooperation.
    • Is this true? What about costs of retaliation?
    • Why agents other than victims carry on punishment?
  • Tasks in Social Control
  • Tasks
    • Identify executors
      • Directly (memory of own experience or observation of others’)
      • Indirectly (transmission of evaluation)
    • React
      • Punishment/retaliation
      • Exclusion/isolation
  • Benefits and costs of identification
      • Direct acquisition of information
        • Own experience
          • Benefits: moderate (insufficient info)
          • Costs: high (info paid at own expenses)
        • Others’ experience (observation; cf. Nowak and Sigmund, 1998 etc .)
          • Benefits: moderate ( wider info but still insufficient)
          • Costs: low
      • Indirect : transmission of information
        • Benefits: very high (much wider info, since one receives information in return)
        • Costs: moderate (lower than own exp., but higher than observation)
          • Communicative act , assumed to be moderately low and constant
          • Effect of information spreading to undesirable recipients ,
          • Potential retaliatory reaction to info transmission,
  • Benefits and costs of reactions
    • Defence/exclusion : avoid bad guys, exclude them from partner choice and communication.
      • Benefits :
        • avoid bad deals
        • prevent cheaters’ profits from such deals
      • Costs :
        • none
    • Retaliation/punishment (for a distinction, see Andrighetto et al., in prep.): action aimed to damage nonreciprocators.
      • Benefits :
        • above +
        • deterrence
      • Costs :
        • act of punishing
        • further reaction of recipient.
  • To sum up…
    • Reactions are as beneficial as costly.
      • Punishment is as efficacious as expensive,
      • Exclusion is less convincing, but self-protecting
    • Identification can be optimised by means of communication.
  • Spare costs of transmission to optimise social control…
    • So far, so good.
    • However, communication is not for free
      • spares the costs of acquiring information,
      • entails the costs of transmitting it
    • Is it possible to reduce such costs without reducing benefits?
    • Let see whether reputation, as a specific form of social intelligence, can help…
  • A Social Cognitive View of Reputation
  • Types of social evaluations Evaluations Image Reputation Set of evaluative beliefs about a given target Meta-beliefs about others’ evaluation
  • Social cognitive properties of reputation transmission
    • No personal commitment of speaker about nested beliefs’ truthvalue.
    • No responsability about their credibility and consequences (“I am told that…”)
    Implicit source of rumour Indefinite author of evaluation
  • Effects on social control
    • Reporting on beliefs of indefinite source,
      • Prevents the target from providing discharge
      • Denies escape
      • Unfalsifiable accusation
      • Lower costs of reputation transmission for participants
        • it can be practised by anyone
        • prevents escalation of aggression and violence: people are likely to transmit reputation, because they hidethemselves behind indefinite source
      • Travels fast (badmouthing faster)
        • before the victim's innocence is proved, her reputation is spoiled.
  • Reputation Transmission in Traditional Societies: An Overview “ Anyone who has obeyed nature by transmitting a piece of gossip experiences the explosive relief that accompanies the satisfying of a primary need”.” Primo Levi &quot;About Gossip,&quot; 1986).
  • Cooperation or competition?
    • Reputation transmission = gossip
    • With Gluckman’s study (1963), gossip became an object of study of its own in cultural anthropology
    • No consistent view (Levinson and Ember, Enc. Cult. Anth., 1997):
      • Social cohesion (group maintenance; Gluckman, 1963)
      • Social conflict (alliance against, Colson, 1949; etc.).
    • Shift of focus (Brenneis, 1987; Besnier, 1989; Brison, 1978; etc.),
      • the form of gossip
      • its features ,
      • the social characters and relationships involved, and
      • the narrative.
  • The interactive nature of Fatufatu among the Nakulaelae
    • Successful Nukulaelae gossips often “pause dramatically at strategic moments” (Besnier, 1989)
      • Waiting for interlocutors’ interjections or comments
      • on the scandalous content of narrative
    Atoll in Pacific Ocean
  • Joint creation of Talanoa in Bhatgaon
    • Talanoa (tah-lah-NO-ah) is idle talk of Hindu inhabitants from the village of Bhatgaon in Fiji, as described by Donald Brenneis (1978).
    • Reputation is the kernel of social hierarchy.
    • Speakers and audience cannot be easily dfferentiated because gossip is created jointly by all participants
  • Social relationships in Talanoa
    • Two relationships:
      • Gossiper towards target: limit perception of own identity
      • Gossiper towards gossipers:
        • don’t cause sanctions or retaliation
        • Let recipients form opinions “of their own”.
    Talanoa Village
  • Third-person narrative in Talanoa : Bole
    • A requirement of talanoa emerging from transcriptions is the continuous and repeated use of the word “bole” (lit. the third sing. person of present tense of the verb “to speak”), used to
      • mean “I’ve heard saying” or “they say”
      • refer to an indefinite speaker or source.
    • In both cases the use of “bole” caused the speaker to keep a distance from what s/he says: s/he is not reporting on his/her own opinion but on voice or rumours.
  • Ambiguous and indefinite narratives in Talanoa
    • Talanoa transcriptions cannot be understood without previous knowledge
    • Heavy use of metaphors, irony, atc., communicating that what is hidden is more than what is said.
    • Indefinite characters
      • Targets are never clearly identified
      • The authorship of a particular gossip is blurred
  • Indefinite authorship among the Hopi
    • Bruce A. Cox (1970) studied gossip in the reservation Hopi in Arizona, 11 villages
    • Gossip starts when political authority is monopolised by one group.
    • Powerless use gossip to keep authority under control and form alliances.
    • Victims cannnot escape effect of accusation since,
      • source is not revealed,
      • evidence is not brought about
      • nor disconfirmed.
    Hopi pueblo in Arizona (1879). Hopi House near Grand Canyon, 2005
  • “ Just talk” among the Kwanga
    • In 1992, Karen Brison studied the Kwanga, a tribe of hunterer-gatherers in Papua New Guinea which lives in numerous villages characterised by complex social networks.
  • The Kwanga
    • Initiated men form a community of equals. Attempts to command lead to loss of support.
    • The Kwanga hold long community meetings to discuss matters of common concern), during which gossip is spread about powerful men:
    • If asked to produce evidence accusators resort to a conventional solution: they claim theirs was just talk , rumours…...
  • To sum up
    • Gossip leaves indefinite
      • The target ( Kwanga )
      • The source ( Bole )
    • Is spread in absence of target ( Talanoa )
    • Is unfalsifiable and unaccountable ( Hopi )
    • maintains group-values and identity ( Makah )
    • but also creates alliance (Hess and Hagen, 2002; Goodwin, 2002) of underprivileged against luckier
    • prevents retaliation (many)
    • it is fun ( Talanoa )
    • deplorable ( Fatufatu )
  • What these features amount to…
    • Impersonal narratives no commitment on truthvalue
    • Indefinite authorship
    • Joint creation of gossip no responsibility
    • indefinite targets
    • common in small acephalous communities (see also Boehm, 1999), where members are interdependent and act covertly instead of taking direct action which might offend others.
    • Ethnographic evidene matches the cognitive analysis
  • Any general conclusion?
    • Gossip is a universal behaviour, with more or less the same features, but different social consequences
    • Nonsense to look for consistent effects! These are often prosocial, but sometimes gossip may be used strategically, to create alliances against someone, etc.)
    • Its universal features converge on
      • transmit a reported-on evaluation (reputation)
    • Thus
      • Prevents retaliation thus sparing participants both
        • costs of info acquisition
        • costs of transmission
      • Provides incentive to participate in social control
  • Further effects
    • Low cost transmission provides incentive to informational cooperation.
    • Hence, larger informational basin
    • What about material cooperation? No final answer. Under certain conditions, E.g.
      • Negative and unfalsifiable gossip + consequent exclusion:
        • Set of agents said to be bad implies and exceeds set of bad agents
    • The larger the informational network the lower the number of cheating deals .
      • To be checked by means of simulation!
  • Further questions
    • Why inherently pleasant?
      • Perhaps because it is a self-enhancing protected aggression?
      • Motivations and emotions should be investigated…
    • Why deprecated?
      • unprivileged and weak use gossip as their only weapon
      • In natural reasoning, a material implication becomes an equivalence ( Geiss & Zwicky, 1971; Oaksford & Stenning, 
1992; Wason & Johnson-Laird, 1972) . From, “if p then q”, to “If p then q, and if q then p.”
      • From “If you are weak, you can only aggress by means of gossip”, to “If you gossip, you are weak.”
      • Participants in gossip are said to be weak and unprivileged.
      • Hence, gossip is a vile and self-derogatory practice.
  • Conclusions
    • Dunbar (1998) and Panchanathan (2001) suggest that gossip evolved as an adaptive response to a selective pressure towards enlarging hominids’ settlements.
    • Here gossip is argued to have evolved
      • Taking advantage of a human cognitive capacity
      • By providing incentive to participate in social control because it lowers its costs keeping constant benefits (spreading meta-evaluation inhibits retaliation).
    • Data from traditional societies match this suggestion.
    • Enlargement of human societies as a possible side-effect.
  • To be done
    • If deceitful gossiper is not punished, to what extent does social control work? Trade-off between
      • Unfalsifiability of accusation
      • Utility of information
    • Possibly, there is a threshold above which informational cheating leads to system collapse.
    • An empirical question for future simulation-based studies.