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 Rosaria Conte LABSS/ISTC-CNR ICORE, Gargonza, Italy March 18-20, 2009
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 "About Gossip," 1986).
Perhaps because it is a self-enhancing protected aggression?
Motivations and emotions should be investigated…
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.