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No man is the Lord of any thing Til he communicate his parts to others. Nor does he of himself know them for aught Til he behold them formed in th’applause. Perseverence, my lord, Keeps honour bright, to have done is to hang Quite out of fashion, like a rusty mail In monumental mockery (Shakespeare, Troilus and Cressida).
Dictionary: NOSD
 
 
 
 
e purest treasure mortal times aord
Is spotless reputation—that away
Men are but gilded loam or painted clay
William Shakespeare, Richard II
T domain of psychology is the explanation of behavior and individual human behavior
in particular. Its distinguishing feature, however, is not this agenda which it shares with
other disciplines but the concepts on which it draws. Its explanations refer to human
nature and therefore the ways in which all humans are the same but also the ways in
which they dier. It considers needs and motives, emotions and judgments, and the pro-
cesses by which information about the world is acquired, integrated into memory, and
subsequently retrieved and deployed in decision making. In the present context
itaddresses, therefore, the needs and motives that underlie gossip and the judgment
processes that surround reputations as products of gossip. is by no means exhausts
the ways in which psychology might approach these phenomena, but the “might” in this
statement is relevant; psychological theorizing about gossip and reputation is barely
developed. It is true that there is a long history of research relating to both phenomena.
e relative absence of theorizing, however, is both surprising and unsurprising, sur-
prising given the ubiquity of gossiping in everyday life and the importance of reputa-
tions for people’s lives and livelihoods, but unsurprising given models of social life and
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  
of the person that have been inuential within psychology. A task of this chapter therefore
must be to assemble the elements of a psychological perspective. Fortunately, there is a
reasonable body of material that can be recruited to this task even if its original produc-
tion has oen served other objectives.
Gossip is dened here as informal conversational exchange concerning named third
parties not present. us, no a priori assumptions are made about content—whether
negative, positive or neutral—gossiper characteristics or motivations, or the eects of
gossip. ese are properly matters to be decided on evidence. Reputation is dened as
that set of judgments a community shares about the personal qualities of one of its
members, judgments shaped by gossip. e chapter therefore treats gossip and reputa-
tion not just as intimately related phenomena but as necessarily interdependent. It makes
little sense, psychologically, to consider one without the other.
e chapter is organized as follows. Early psychological research on gossip and repu-
tation is briey surveyed, and some reasons are identied for the failure of a more com-
prehensive and integrated treatment of these topics to emerge. Next the central thesis of
the chapter is developed, linking gossip and reputation to the distinctive features associ-
ated with humans as social animals, namely social complexity, high-level intellect and
language use. e following two parts of the chapter are devoted to two roles of the
individual in relation to gossip. e rst is as gossip provider, a role that underpins
reputation as social control mechanism. e second role is as gossip consumer; this role
shis the focus to reputations as predictions. e chapter concludes with some obser-
vations on future directions for research.
E R  G 
R  I L
Despite the intimate link being proposed here, long recognized within anthropology
(Bailey,), it is nevertheless the case that in the early psychological research on gossip
and reputation, with only a very few exceptions (e.g., Janet,), no connection was
made between the two. e rst studies on gossiping were directed largely at describing
its content (Moore,), in particular gender dierences in topics (see Bischopping,
, for review), and to a lesser extent its personality correlates (Davis & Rulon,).
Perhaps the important point, however, was that research did little to test or challenge
folklore about gossips and gossiping. In the commonsense or popular view of gossip
(Bergmann,; Emler,; Schein,; Spacks,), one that has been widespread
across cultures, gossip is spread by people who are either foolish or malicious and who
in any event have little regard for the truth. ese attributes of gossips, together with the
errors introduced into information when it is passed through long communication
chains, inevitably render the substance of gossip highly unreliable. Consequently the
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     
superciality and mendaciousness of those who spread gossip is only surpassed by the
foolish gullibility of those who give it credence. roughout history cultural images of
gossip have emphasized its malign and damaging consequences and almost universally
identied the chief suspects, both the purveyors and consumers, as women.
In the period up to the s there was very little systematic or sustained research
attention directed at gossip within psychology. is neglect probably reects both tech-
nical diculties in studying the phenomenon (Dunbar et al.,; Emler,) and a
lack of evident connection with other phenomena that were absorbing the attention of
researchers. A larger obstacle, however, has been the dominance of the view that social
life consists largely of “one shot interactions between anonymous partners” (Nowak &
Sigmund,. p. ). is view inevitably conned gossip to the periphery of social
life as a rather trivial and inconsequential activity, and so long as the popular stereotype
of gossips and gossiping went unchallenged, there was little incentive to overcome the
technical diculties inherent in researching the topic.
Across the same period there were initiatives to conceptualize personality in terms of
reputation (May, ; Vernon,) but these made little progress against prevailing
orthodoxy (cf. Allport,; see Craik,, for review). Otherwise reputation appeared
in the research literature primarily in the context of methodology; “reputational meas-
ures,” or observer reports, were regarded as useful supplements to self-reports, as means
albeit indirect of assessing personality and character (e.g., Havighurst & Taba, ;
Winder & Wiggins,). However, there was no implication that multiple observers
might share judgments as a consequence of voicing their opinions to one another or that
these judgments might draw upon third party reports (i.e., gossip).
Just as prevailing models of society excluded any signicant role for gossip in social
life so the study of reputation has been hampered by inuential models of the person.
What became known as the situationist critique of personality psychology (Funder,)
was essentially the claim that there is no such entity as personality, coupled with the
additional claim that behavior is entirely a function of the situation. From these claims
itseemed to follow that people cannot in any meaningful sense have reputations as
judgments of their personality or character.
H S
e argument to be developed in this section is that the activity of gossiping is a uniquely
human solution to needs of predictability and control, needs served by the circulation
ofreputational information (Enquist & Leimar,; Emler,). Correspondingly,
reputations in their basic manifestation can exist only to the extent that the members
ofhuman communities do gossip with one another. Gossiping, and the reputational
judgments this supports, allows humans to sustain and adapt to the complex social
environments they inhabit.
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  
Social Vertebrates
We now know a great deal about animal societies, including the key insight that these
are all only societies to the extent that their members in some manner or degree cooper-
ate (Wilson,). Moreover, we now also understand that evolution can result in
cooperating species because natural selection can favor behavioral strategies such as
contingent altruism (Trivers,), and specic variants of this such as Tit-for-Tat
(Axelrod & Hamilton,), that limit the advantages of non-cooperation. ere also
appears to be an intimate connection between the complexity of animal societies, such
as those of primates, and high-level intelligence (Dunbar,; Humphrey,). One
reason for this connection is that for individuals to survive and prosper within such
societies they must sustain a detailed knowledge both about one another as individuals
and about the ongoing state of social relations within the group.
Another reason arises from the fact that social animals are genetic competitors
(Humphrey,). Humphrey argued that that the intellectual challenge for social ani-
mals is to sustain a balance between the cooperation from which they benet, indeed on
which they depend utterly, and the pursuit by each individual member of its genetic
imperative (to be a successful reproducer). Pushing too hard to realize the genetic
imperative would destroy cooperation; being an entirely self-less co-operator would
exclude realization of this imperative. Humphrey’s insight mirrors psychological argu-
ments for two basic human needs, to get along with others (to be liked and accepted)
and to get ahead (to be respected and successful; Abele & Wojciszke,; Bakan,;
Baumeister & Leary,; Hogan & Blickle,), but it also highlights the challenges in
balancing these.
Language and Social Knowledge
e capacity for speech communication sets human societies apart from those of all
other vertebrate species, and does so in large part because it sidesteps a fundamental
constraint on the acquisition of social knowledge, namely dependence on direct obser-
vation of the relevant individuals and events. Speech allows humans and no other spe-
cies to exchange and share social information because language, and no other naturally
occurring form of communication, contains the capacity for complex messages refer-
ring to the not here and not now (Hockett,). We are thus alone among social animals
in our ability to become and remain informed about the signicant detail of our societies
without having to observe any of it directly.
is capability also transcends a major limitation of Tit-for-Tat reciprocity as a
behavioral strategy. e strategy does incur costs to the cooperator; he or she can only
avoid the cheats by rst being cheated. And the cheat in turn continues to prosper until
the supply of one-time victims is exhausted. ese costs can of course be reduced if
potential victims learn from observation, and not just from direct experience. But they
can be reduced much more substantially and rapidly through the use of language to
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     
circulate information on others’ past behavior (Enquist & Leimar,). So the proposal
here is that the basic, original purpose of language, the adaptive advantage it conferred,
was cheap acquisition of social knowledge. Talking to each other about each other aords
us huge eciencies in keeping informed as to who among us is powerful, honest, or capa-
ble and who is not. But can these benets of gossiping be sustained under the conditions
of contemporary social life? ere would appear to be strong arguments to the contrary.
e Societies of Ancestral and Contemporary Humans
An ancestral environment comprised of small bands of hunter-gatherers is supercially
parallel to the societies of the great apes. If we allow that these human societies were
nonetheless set apart by language then it is possible to envisage hunter gatherers as com-
munities in which gossip was endemic and reputations mattered. e apparent diculty
in extrapolating to the present day is that modern humans inhabit social worlds in
which most of the members are necessarily strangers to one another. is particular fea-
ture already seemed incontrovertible to social theorists writing toward the end of the
th century (e.g., Tonnies,). As they saw it, the industrial revolution had produced
a fundamental shi in the nature of social relations. It had resulted not just in the mass
displacement of populations from small rural settlements to vast industrial conurba-
tions, but had also replaced the intimacy of the village with the anonymity of the city. In
an oen repeated phrase, life in the city would be dominated by “impersonal, super-
cial, transitory, and segmental” encounters (Wirth,, p. ). is “community lost”
(cf. Wellman,) model of social life went on to inform much of th century social
science. Notably this model appeared to rule out any signicant role for gossip or repu-
tation in the contemporary world; in a society of strangers one has no acquaintances
incommon about whom one can gossip, without gossip reputations cannot even be
created, and without continuity of association among acquainted individuals reputation
can be of no consequence. e theoretical challenges were to account for orderly and
predictable social interactions without any basis in personal acquaintance and to account
for good conduct in the absence of eective social control. Sociological role theory
answered the rst challenge: interactants would only need to recognize the social roles
occupied by those involved in the interaction; they would not need to know anything
about one another as individuals. Psychological theories of socialization answered the
second challenge, positing mechanisms of self-control as entirely sucient to guarantee
good conduct.
e community lost thesis also had a particular if not explicitly acknowledged appeal
for social psychology. is appeal lay in the conveniences it allowed to a discipline
strongly committed to the experimental method. If one can safely assume that most
ofthe substance of social life is conducted between strangers it greatly simplies the
requirements of experimental control. e alternative of allowing for the complexities
of relationships between acquainted individuals for all practical purposes rules out
experimentation as a means of studying social behavior.
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  
e Social Life of Modern Humans Reconsidered
Challenges to the community lost model of social life have come from sociological and
anthropological studies of urban communities (Gans,; Young & Wilmott,; see
also Besnier, this volume), as well as from studies revealing evidence of primary groups in
factories (Roethlisberger & Dickson,), well-developed friendship patterns among
city dwellers (Fischer, ), and social networks based on personal acquaintance in
industrialized societies (Travers & Milgram,; Wellman,). From these, it has
become clear that, in Fischer’s words, even people who live in very large cities continue
“to dwell among friends.
However, these various strands of evidence did not directly conrm the relative sig-
nicance of exchanges with acquaintances as compared to Nowak and Sigmund’s ()
one shot interactions between anonymous partners.” Eorts to dene the behavioral
strategies that could sustain cooperation in human societies, including Nowak and
Sigmund’s () own argument for indirect reciprocity, have continued to emphasize
the prevalence of the one shot interaction (Fehr & Gächter,; Leimar & Hammerstein,
; Panchanathan & Boyd,; Seabright,; Smith,; Wu et al.,). Indeed
there is a presumption in these eorts that it is still such incidents of cooperation
between strangers that need explanation. Is this presumption justied?
Research drawing on experience recording methods (Csikzentmihalyi et al., ;
Reis & Gable,; Wheeler & Nezlek,) suggests otherwise. For example, applica-
tions of this methodology (Emler,,) indicate that encounters with strangers
are in practice very much the exception, perhaps no more than –of all encounters.
Some exchanges are formal and impersonal—purely role-based business or service
transactions—but these also make up a tiny proportion of the whole. e great majority
of interactions occur between people who know one another. Moreover they will have
acquaintances in common and thus it seems highly likely that conduct, both good and
bad, is chronically visible, that actors are routinely identiable as the authors of their
actions. If this is the case then conduct is accessible to social control.
G, R, 
S C
e idea that gossip has a role in the social control of behavior is not new (Gluckman,;
Lumley,; Ross,; see also Giardini and Wittek, this volume) but how exactly is
this role performed? ere is an emerging consensus in disciplines as diverse as biology
and economics that gossip encourages cooperation through its impact on reputation; if a
consequence of gossip is rapid and wide dissemination of one’s conduct record then one
might be expected to take care that one’s conduct is consistently above reproach. What
psychology is able to bring to this analysis is clarication of the underpinning dynamics.
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     
e basic requirement is that actors should be sensitive to the reputational consequences
of their actions. Studies of young children conrm that this awareness is present early
in life, at least by eight years and possibly earlier (Hill & Pillow,; Tomasello &
Vaish,). Correspondingly, various experimental studies with adults indicate that
when future partners can access gossip about an actor this encourages the actor to be more
cooperative or pro-social (Feinberg et al.,; Piazza & Bering,; Wu et al.,),
while potential future partners’ decisions are indeed inuenced by information about
actors’ past conduct (Sti & Van Vugt,). Insofar as gossip plays a role in social con-
trol this also requires a credible capacity on the part of gossip providers to injure the
interests of norm violators. Notably Wu et al. () nd evidence that credibility in this
respect is greater when the provider is well connected, which is to say occupying a
network position that allows them to reach a wide audience.
Gossiping: Risks and Motivations
Less straightforward is what motivates an individual to be gossip provider given the
risks this role carries. Gossiping may not be a punishable oence in the st century but it
can still carry a stigma (Farley et al.,; Gawronski & Walter,; Turner et al.,).
Farley () found the risk was greatest to those seen to engage in frequent negative
observations about others. But, in the light of experimental evidence indicating that
people who witness anti-social behavior do seem compelled to pass their observations
on to others (Feinberg et al.,), this creates a puzzle.
e following are plausible motives of gossip providers. First, the role of critic is not
necessarily disparaged when the focus is others’ evident delinquencies. Vaish et al.
() found that even young children prefer others who enforce norms and criticize
those who violate them. Consistent with this, studies of adults conrm an inclination to
moralistic gossip, a desire to see cheats exposed, albeit while indicating this inclination
may be unevenly distributed through human populations (e.g., Fehr & Gätcher, ).
Second, the motivation can be more personal; if one is the victim of another’s bad
behavior then reporting on that bad behavior to third parties oers indirect pay-back
or retaliation; desire for retribution is a powerful motivator (Hogan & Emler,).
ird, sharing information about others, including negative information, could arise from
obligations of reciprocity and mutual support between friends; if you have told me of
your bad experiences with a mutual acquaintance you might expect me to be similarly
candid about other acquaintances we share. is is consistent with Feinberg et al.’s ()
nding that negative critical gossip can be intended to protect others from victimization
and also allows providers to feel good about themselves. Finally, Peters & Kashima ()
show that gossip providers are perceived more positively when they share gossip that
helps its consumers regulate their relations with others.
Pinning down in greater detail where the risks in gossiping lie may require more
dierentiated treatment both of the substance of what is disclosed and the provenance
of the information or opinion disclosed. What little we still know about the substance of
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  
conversational exchanges between acquaintances indicates that while much of it meets
aminimal denition of gossip—it refers to third parties not present—very little is actu-
ally negative (Dunbar et al.,). is does raise questions as to the purpose of such
gossip if it is not to sanction delinquencies.
But consider rst another source of potential risk to the provider, not that the
gossip iscritical of others but that the provider is guilty of bad faith. Bergman ()
talked of gossip as discreet indiscretion, the implication being that the provider
betrays condences. e risk to providers is that they are identied as untrustworthy.
Giardini () notes one strategy that may mitigate this risk is to attribute the dis-
closure to other unnamed sources. e risk may also be managed by careful choice
ofaudience and close monitoring of audience reaction. As matters stand, however,
there is insucient evidence to indicate how oen this risk arises or how it is man-
aged when it does.
To return briey to the manner in which gossip is employed to achieve control, the
basic aim is to persuade an audience of a particular view of the target. However, there are
likely to be motives additional to encouraging the good behavior of targets. Consistent
with needs both to get along with others and to promote one’s own interests there is evi-
dence that gossip can be deployed to support friends and denigrate rivals (Barkow,;
Buss & Dedden,; McAndrew, et al.,).
Imperfections and Limitations of Social Control
If gossip is intended to encourage cooperative or otherwise decent behavior, then mani-
festly it is an imperfect remedy because delinquencies are common-place. e signicant
thing about the chronically delinquent is not that they are the minority who have slipped
temporarily or more permanently through the net of informal social surveillance; they
are as likely as any other member of their community to be identiable as the authors of
their actions (Emler,; Emler & Reicher,). Neither are they individuals unaware
of the reputational consequences of their actions or lacking in the skills to construct
andsustain a “good” reputation. Rather, they appear to have quite dierent reputational
priorities. is should encourage us to recognize that more generally gossip will be an
imperfect guarantee of good conduct because not everyone cares to the same degree
about having a “good” reputation and gossip can equally well be valued for its capacity to
disseminate quite dierent kinds of reputation. e attractions of a delinquent reputation
may reect considerations particularly salient in adolescence (Emler,), but pursuit
of “darker” reputations—for ruthlessness, vengefulness, and so on—will be found among
the adult members of any human community.
Because social control is imperfect, because the motivational balance, as between
getting along and getting ahead together with their distinct reputational goals, can vary
from one individual to another, and because people dier in numerous other ways, suc-
cessful adaptation to an environment populated by ones fellow human beings requires
prediction as well as control.
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Dictionary: NOSD
     
G, R,  P
e role of gossip in social control relates primarily to the motives and interests of social
actors as gossip providers. When we turn to role of gossip in prediction our attention
necessarily shis to the interests of the same actors as gossip consumers. ere are two
broad sets of reasons why prediction matters. e rst, alluded to earlier, is that people
dier, the second relates to circumstances surrounding rather than qualities intrinsic to
individuals, but circumstances that have a bearing on how they behave. ree categories
of such circumstance can be distinguished. e rst reects a sociological truism: role
and status in the social structure matter. People’s actions are conditioned by the roles
they occupy and the duties and obligation associated with these roles. e level at which
an individual sits in an organization constrains the opportunities that individual has
foraction, their capacity to exercise discretion, the power they can wield over the fate of
others. e second set of circumstances concern the ways in which an individual is con-
nected to others at any time; these include both the existence of ties—who do they know,
who do they talk to—and the content or quality of current ties—who are their friends
and intimates, to whom do they owe loyalty, who are their rivals and enemies, against
whom do they have grievances. e third set concerns changes of fortune. ings hap-
pen to people that alter their capacities for action; they inherit property, suer bereave-
ments, marry and divorce, sustain injuries and so forth.
What matters to the gossip consumer with respect to these details about others is
timeliness. If gossip is news then kudos is earned by being rst (Levin & Arluke,).
But competition for kudos also protects consumers from blatant misrepresentation;
multiple sources will be seeking to be rst with the same news.
Gossip as Evidence of Actor Characteristics
In making predictions with respect to dierences between people what should matter to
us is the reliability of the evidence on which these can draw. e important dierences
fall into three categories, () dierences of personality, character and temperament,
()dierences in values, tastes and interests, and () dierences in abilities, skills, and
expertise. Of these three, the cluster relating to abilities has behind it the longest history
of psychological research. At the other end of the scale work on values, tastes and interests
is much more limited, though the relevance of these to the way people live their lives, for
example, with respect to career choices and political commitments, is well established.
However, neither category of characteristic has gured to any signicant degree in psy-
chological research on gossip and reputation (for exceptions, Denissen et al., Emler
et al.,). Most of what we know relates to personality or character.
One potential challenge to the value of gossip as a source of information about others
personalities is that there is no truth about personality to be had, whether by this route
or any other. It may be common sense that the personalities of people dier in various
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  
ways but psychology has a history of dissenting from this common sense. Indeed, a major
reason historically for the absence of a well-established psychology of reputation has
been a model of the person quite at odds with common beliefs. In the s, psychologi-
cal research was casting in doubt the very existence of moral character as a meaningful,
enduring and generalized quality of individuals (Hartshorne & May, ) and for the
next  years researcher sought to show rst that conduct is a function of the situation
not the person and second that various information processing aws endemic in
human perceivers lead them to see consistency in others’ behavior where none actu-
ally exists. So if people are perceived to have reputations, whether for honesty or gen-
erosity, emotional stability or reliability, these may be compelling illusions but they
are illusions nonetheless.
Rediscovering the Reality of Character and Personality
Matters have changed but slowly. One source of change has been appreciation that the
experimental methods providing evidence of error in perception have their own limita-
tions. In particular, they oen fail to engage the motivations and eort of perceivers who
will then choose to use low-cost methods to process presented information (Fiske &
Neuberg,), choices that produce error or inaccuracy oen enough to sustain the
hypothesis of the human as incorrigibly awed perceiver. Other sources have included
reassertion of the value of basic psychometric principles underlying accurate measurement
of dierences between people, and more robust methods for studying interpersonal
perception (Funder,; Kenny,).
With respect to this latter point, and with parallel implications for reputational
judgments, deserving of particular mention is the emergence of research designs that
properly resolved the methodological weaknesses of early person perception research
(Cronbach,). One valuable innovation in research design has involved a round-robin
procedure (Kenny,); in the basic version, groups of people make judgments about
their own personalities and those of all other members of the group. A crucial asset of
this design is that dierent sources of inuence on perceptions of personality can be pre-
cisely quantied. So perception of the degree to which an individual is perceived as, for
example, cooperative may in part reect the tendency of perceivers to see others as more
or less cooperative (a perceiver eect). On the other hand, to the extent that observers
agree as to who is more or less cooperative, this points to real dierences between people
in their cooperativeness. Kenny () labelled this a “target eect. ird, perceptions of
cooperativeness could reect something specic to the relationship between perceiver
and target. A particular target may have a cooperative relation with one perceiver but not
with others. To the extent that perceptions reect this possibility they can be described
as products of a relationship eect (Kenny,).
Research inspired by Kenny’s design recommendations has delivered a number of
important outcomes. Perhaps the most important is that, with respect to many qualities
of the person that may be judged and under a variety of conditions, of the relative
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     
contributions of the dierent sources of inuence—perceiver, target, relationship—target
eects are oen the largest. In other words, it seems that there are real dierences between
people and these can be accurately identied by others.
Personality as Reputation
Psychometrically inspired research on personality has produced a consensus about the
principal ways in which personality varies. is consensus is sometimes described as
the Big Five model of personality: the principal dierences between people can be cap-
tured by ve broad sets of characteristics, oen labelled respectively as neuroticism,
extraversion, conscientiousness, agreeableness and openness to experience. Signicantly,
however, this model did not initially arise out of conventional psychometric work on
personality measurement but from studies of the terms that exist in natural languages
todescribe people. Given the argument advanced in this chapter, that language uniquely
equips humans to exchange social information, we therefore might expect natural
languages to be rich in their capacity to code for such information. is turns out to be
the case. Allport and Odbert () identied over four and a half thousand terms in
the English language that are person descriptive. But it also turns out that this exten-
sive lexicon can be clustered into groups of terms, ve in number, that convey similar
meanings (Norman,; Peabody & Goldberg,). is “lexical hypothesis” as to
the structure of personality then inspired a variety of personality measures employing
self-reports. Individuals’ descriptions of themselves on the ve broad dimensions
satisfy the basic psychometric requirement of high reliability. Does the big ve also
provide a map for reputations, an indication of the main ways in which reputations as
judgments of character vary?
In this respect there has been a signicant cross fertilization of the psychometric
tradition of personality assessment employing self-reports and the new wave of person
perception research. In probing the accuracy of observer impressions of personality,
eorts initially dened accuracy as convergence with self-reports (the conventional
psychometric evidence). But it became increasingly apparent that this had matters
the wrong way about. Research had already shown that aggregating or combining the
judgments of knowledgeable informants generates reliable assessments of personal-
ity (Cheek, ; Moskowitz & Schwarz,). Recent work indicates that these
assessments can also be more accurate than self-reports (Vazire,; Oh, Wang, &
Mount,). Evidence of this kind has led Hogan (; Hogan & Blickle,) to
argue that personality traits should be regarded not as qualities inherent in individuals
but as predictions about their behavior made by others who know them. In other words
personality should properly be understood as reputation. And the ve factors perhaps
reect not the main ways in which people dier from one another but what it is most
important for people to know about the character of their fellow human beings. We are
now in a better position to consider the utility of gossip with respect to reputation as
apredictive tool.
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  
G U  P P
Funder () argued that the accuracy of perceiver’s impressions of others’ personality
will be a function of the quality and quantity of evidence available to the perceiver. He
linked this to the proposition that evidence is more plentiful the better acquainted the
perceiver is with the target. However, his discussion of accuracy implies that the evi-
dence available to the perceiver derives from his or her relationship with the target and
the accumulated interactions between them represented by this relationship. But con-
sider what psychometrics tells us: larger samples of behavior or performance are more
representative of a person’s behavior in general and yield more reliable assessments.
And, in the absence of systematic error, more reliable assessments are also more accurate.
However, large samples are also costly, and what is true of self-report measures is also true
of observer assessments. I have argued that language confers on humans a huge adaptive
advantage in enabling low cost information sharing; socially transmitted information
gives access to very large samples of others’ behavior much more eciently and cheaply
than any single observer could achieve by personal observation alone. Nonetheless, this
is only an advantage to the extent that observers are also disposed and equipped to make
good use of this information. But what does “good use” of socially transmitted informa-
tion mean, and how might human observers accomplish this?
Smith () has shown, using “agent based modelling” (see also Grow & Flache, this
volume), that observers who rely exclusively on their own direct observation are less
likely to detect character aws in others than those who additionally make use of third
party reports. He makes the point that evil may be manifested in rare behaviors; by de-
nition these are more likely to occur in large samples. So it makes sense for observers to
supplement their own direct impressions with those of others. In passing there is an
additional important point in Smith’s analysis: if reputations are the aggregate of a set
ofindividual impressions, each of these latter is some synthesis of direct personal expe-
riences of the target and evidence provided by third parties. ere are nonetheless
numerous challenges to the value of third party reports, from benign distortion to the
possibility of deliberate misrepresentation.
Benign Distortions
A, as observer, might make the default assumption that B can be an honest and reliable
witness to the conduct of C.Recall, however, that evidence using Kenny’s recommended
research design consistently indicates a relationship eect. Part of what B can report
about C will be particular to their relationship (Kenny et al.,); honest witnesses
willtherefore unavoidably provide partial reports. is being so, it makes sense for the
observer to proceed in a manner akin to Kenny’s research design: integrate the reports
of multiple observers. Evidence as to this happening naturally is still scarce. Note, how-
ever, Kenny et al. () also nd that target eects are larger relative to relationship
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     
eects when data are aggregated across several partners (people who interact with the
target). As to the number of third party reports to likely to optimize eciency, a further
prediction can be derived from the principles underlying Kenny’s round robin design.
For statistical reasons the minimum number of perceivers required to allow partition-
ing of variance is three. It would be interesting to know whether naïve observers naturally
apply the same rule. A study by Hess and Hagen () of perceptions of gossip veracity
is at the very least consistent with this possibility. ey found that, presented with a
hypothetical scenario, gossip was perceived as believable when the same observations
were repeated by at least three witnesses.
Other possible sources of benign distortions in gossip arise from the dynamics of
opinion sharing. It has long been known that opinions and judgments tend to converge
when they are shared (cf. Sherif,). In addition, it has been shown that people
will tend to adjust their expressed views to match those their audience is believed to
hold (Higgins & Rholes,; Higgins,) while decision making groups are poor
at exposing information that is not already widely shared within the group (Stasser &
Titus,). Burt () argued that for these kinds of reasons gossip is likely to be of
little value as a source of truth about others. Respect for etiquette, he proposed, means
we do not tell others all we know or believe about third parties. We select and, in the
interests of politeness, we select those things we believe a particular other wishes to hear,
namely things consistent with what the other already believes or thinks. Burt goes on
to endorse Gambettas () view that gossip is not primarily about truth; it is about
sociability (cf. also arguments for the role of gossip in social bonding and friendship
formation, Dunbar,; Foster,). One possible way out of this diculty is to accept
that gossip has multiple functions but that these are not all operative in the same settings
or the same relationships. us politeness may be a salient consideration for interactions
in relatively public settings and pressures to opinion convergence may be strong in group
settings. But a majority of conversational exchanges involve just two parties and many of
these involve close friends or intimates between whom candor may be more valued than
politeness (Emler,; cf. also Lyons et al.,).
Information Loss in Communication Chains
A dierent kind of objection to the reliability of gossip carries echoes of its image in the
popular imagination: the message is necessarily distorted as it passes from one person to
another, and the longer the chain of communication the greater the distortion. ere are
some dierent but related possibilities here. e rst is noise; communicated informa-
tion is always degraded to some degree by noise and successive repetitions along a chain
of communication magnify noise eects. Second, information tends to become both
simplied and exaggerated as it moves along a communication chain (Baron et al.,;
ompson et al.,). ird, the source of the information becomes progressively
dicult to identify with each successive link and correspondingly easier to misrepresent
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  
In a study of the accuracy with which information is transmitted along extended
chains, Mesoudi et al. () found that gossip about third party relationships was
successfully transmitted with little information loss, in marked contrast to non-social
information. In contrast, Gilovich () found that information transmitted through
just one intermediary lost mitigating detail; the originating disclosure contained rev-
elations potentially damaging to the source while the intermediary’s account painted
a more unambiguously negative picture of the source. However, a problem exists here
with the plausibility of the scenario the experiment created. In the normal course of events,
which is to say outside of the unnatural worlds one can create in experiments, people
donot naturally entrust their own accounts of their failings to anyone; they will tend to
choose close friends, audiences likely to speak supportively on their behalf to third
parties (Emler,). e intermediaries in Gilovich’s experiment had no motive to
be careful with the accounts they were given; they had no personal connection to the
source and subject of the account.
As regards the unreliability introduced by long communication chains Wilson et al.
() found that people expect to give less weight to information about another that
has been mediated by more than one link. Moreover there is little evidence that gossip
normally involves long chains and good reasons to expect the reverse; both Boissevain
() and Granovetter () argue that the eective reach of a person’s inuence
seldom reaches beyond the friends of their friends (for a contrary view, see Fowler &
Motivated Data Corruption
A more serious challenge to gossip’s utility is motivated data corruption. We have already
seen that providers can have mixed motives; they will exaggerate the virtues of those close
to them and correspondingly overplay the shortcomings of their rivals (McAndrew
et al.,). If the gossip consumer is to make eective use of third party reports we should
expect some degree of discounting when motivated distortion on the part of providers
isa possibility. Hess and Hagen () found just such discounting to occur when the
gossip provider’s report concerned either a friend or a competitor. Smith (), again
using agent based modelling, demonstrates the value of an alternative, content-based
strategy, which is for observers to discount third party reports that are clearly discrepant
with their own existing impression of a target. Smith’s argument for the value of this strat-
egy is that it circumvents uncertainty about the origins of third party reports. However,
where communication chain are very short, ltering evaluations of gossip through
knowledge about the relationship between provider and target becomes viable. is of
course presupposes good knowledge about the state of the relevant relationships. In
this respect, note that gossip may inform people about the state of relationships among
others (cf. Dunbar et al.,). In addition, it turns out people are highly and accurately
attuned to these matters (Kenny et al.,). In other words, we are in a position to be
good at the necessary discounting.
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     
A nal potential corrupter of data is the target of gossip. Should we not expect actors
to seek reputations better than they deserve and so manage the information that is
available to others? e directly related, and more extensively researched, case is that of
self-presentation. In an inuential analysis, Jones () argued that actors routinely
seek to persuade audiences of a view of themselves that it is not in the interests of the
audience to believe, that they the actors are more worthy, powerful, likeable, successful,
or devout than is in fact the case. In other words, the goals of self-presentation are essen-
tially manipulative, and thus audiences in the role of gossip providers, however honest
and accurate they seek to be, can only oer evidence that is corrupted at source.
Goman () took a dierent view of impression management, captured in his
concept of “dramatic realization.” For Goman the actor’s problem is not to create a
fakepersona to mislead the audience but to explain or dramatize the actual persona. e
problem arises because, whatever talents or virtues people possess, these are not auto-
matically evident to others and may actually remain obscured without active dramatiza-
tion by the actor. If Goman is correct, and I think there is merit in his argument, then
reputation management will have more to do with clarication than manipulation.
As to the principal tools of reputation management we have already encountered
these from other directions. Reputations are constructed, sustained and dissected in
conversations from which the actor is absent. What matters therefore to the objects of
reputational judgments is the involvement of intimates, allies, and admirers when these
conversations take place. erefore, to manage their reputations with some measure
ofsuccess, individuals must invest in relationships that will provide this kind of social
support, reciprocate in kind and, because scope for reputation management lies sub-
stantially with resolution of ambiguities in conduct and performance, keep potential
supporters updated with disambiguating accounts (Emler,).
e preceding discussion points to a further reason for variations in the accuracy
of reputations: people dier in social visibility (Granovetter,). People will attract
greater social attention to the extent that they are perceived to be powerful, but will
also have higher visibility to the extent that they sustain more frequent contacts
witha wider circle of acquaintances. Under these circumstances the volume of gossip
about them will be greater and thus also will be the pool of data on which their repu-
tations will be based. Correspondingly, those who by temperament or choice have
more limited social contacts will have less precisely calibrated reputations (Anderson
& Shakro,).
C  F D
It has been the thesis of this chapter that gossip and reputation serve fundamental needs
of adaptation to the social environment, needs realized through achievement of predic-
tion and control. e latter can be seen as the aggregate eect of individuals acting as
gossip providers and acting through a mix of motives, including defense of friends and
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  
denigration of adversaries. Prediction shis the focus to the consumer role, one that
involves a complex exercise in evaluating and integrating the social information provided
through gossip. Evidence is consistent with this role being exercised in the manner of an
intuitive but sophisticated psychometrician. at is to say, it involves drawing on large
samples, maximizing data quality (avoiding long chains), ltering for data corruption,
discarding outliers (rejecting extreme values), and partitioning variance across reports
to distinguish target eects from relationship eects. Finally, if all individuals partici-
pate in social life simultaneously in three guises their objective in the third guise, as the
focus of others’ gossip, is successfully to dramatize the reputations they seek.
As to future challenges for research, one such relates to social functions of the
intellect (Humphrey,). If these functions include making judgments about others
then there is much still to be understood about the information processing require-
ments of assimilating, weighing and integrating information from multiple sources for
this cognitive activity to serve an adaptive purpose. Among related questions still to
be researched in detail are the strategies people use, both as providers and consumers
of gossip, to distribute social attention, and as targets of gossip the strategies they use
to manage their own reputations. And beyond these are questions about dierences
between people in both areas of strategy, including dierences in objectives and skills
(see also McAndrew, “Gossip as a Social Skill,” this volume).
A nal requirement for the future, but one that deserves priority treatment because
itunderlies our ability to answer the other questions already set out, is a more thorough
and accurate description of the phenomena we seeks to explain. In the case of reputation
but particularly gossip, the hypotheses we have tested in research have too oen taken
commonly held beliefs as their starting point. Our science would be better served by
building on a foundation of high quality description. To this end, and notwithstanding
the technical diculties involved, we need to know much more about the natural rhythms
of social life, who talks to whom, how frequently and extensively, under what circum-
stances, and about what.
. For earlier reviews covering the psychology of gossip, see Emler (), Foster (), and
of reputation, see Bromley (), Craik (), Emler ().
. Ironically, Allport criticized this approach on the grounds that reputations might reect
. Many kinds of entity have reputations in contemporary society—football teams, nancial
institutions, wines, etc. e focus of the chapter is the reputations of individual people.
. Crucial features of language would appear to be (a) names to identify those to whom
information refers, and (b) grammar to construct complex messages relating actors to
actions in numerous ways.
. In medieval England, gossip, at least when women were its practitioners, was outlawed
(Oakley,) and the punishments were oen fatal. Much more recently, researchers have
documented the extreme lengths women continue to go to in some cultures to avoid the
suspicion they are gossiping (Hutson,; Naish,).
0004267823.INDD 62 12/31/2018 9:43:37 AM
Dictionary: NOSD
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. An inclination to share gossip about others has been found in children as early as ve
(Englemann, Hermann & Tomasello,).
. Properly speaking, prediction can have two meanings with respect to behavior, rst in the
sense of predicting how people in general will behave given a particular set of circum-
stances, and second in the sense of predicting the behavior of a specic named individual
where this might dier from the behavior of others. e term is used here in this second
. Norman () later identied around , such terms. To give this some context, esti-
mates for the typical vocabulary size of native English speakers range from , to ,.
. is is in fact an adaptive response when there is known to be a truth but it is dicult to
determine, for instance, how many beans are contained in a jar.
. A potential limitation of the study as representative of gossiping is that the information
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... In fact, roughly two thirds of daily conversation appears to involve social information sharing [6,7], with the majority of such free conversations about people not present at the scene [8]. When we communicate to others (i.e., sender to receiver) about an absent target, we call it gossip [see 9,10]. ...
... If participants chose not to spread the gossip, this question regarding the types of gossip receivers was skipped. These first three steps of the task were designed to mimic real social decision-making with (2) participants were then asked to decide whether or not to spread the given information to other people by pressing buttons on a keyboard; (3) if they chose to spread the gossip, they were given four options of gossip receivers: family members or a few close friends, multiple acquaintances, anyone including a total stranger, and strangers only, with receiver type to be examined in a future article; and (4)-(7) the participants were then asked to rate each scenario (from -3 to +3) on emotion (4), ordinariness (5), interest level (6), and subjective valence (7). ...
To understand, predict, and help correct each other's actions we need to maintain accurate, up-to-date knowledge of people, and communication is a critical means by which we gather and disseminate this information. Yet the conditions under which we communication social information remain unclear. Testing hypotheses generated from our theoretical framework, we examined when and why social information is disseminated about an absent third party: i.e., gossiped. Gossip scenarios presented to participants (e.g., "Person-X cheated on their exam") were based on three key factors: (1) target (ingroup, outgroup, or celebrity), (2) valence (positive or negative), and (3) content. We then asked them (a) whether they would spread the information, and (b) to rate it according to subjective valence, ordinariness, interest level, and emotion. For ratings, the scenarios participants chose to gossip were considered to have higher valence (whether positive or negative), to be rarer, more interesting, and more emotionally evocative; thus showing that the paradigm was meaningful to subjects. Indeed, for target, valence, and content, a repeated-measures ANOVA found significant effects for each factor independently, as well as their interactions. The results supported our hypotheses: e.g., for target, more gossiping about celebrities and ingroup members (over strangers); for valence, more about negative events overall, and yet for ingroup members, more positive gossiping; for content, more about moral topics, with yet all domains of social content communicated depending on the situation-context matters, influencing needs. The findings suggest that social knowledge sharing (i.e., gossip) involves sophisticated calculations that require our highest sociocognitive abilities, and provide specific hypotheses for future examination of neural mechanisms.
... Thus, for this purpose, adolescents choose a particular self-image with which to make this reputation public through visible actions in the peer group, which, in turn, becomes a key factor for the regulation of social behavior (Bartolomé and Díaz, 2020). Diverse research have shown that, for some adolescents, positive reputation and status is achieved through involvement in transgressive and violent behaviors in the classroom (Emler, 1990;Carroll, 1995;Emler andReicher, 1995, 2005;Carroll et al., 1996Carroll et al., , 1997Carroll et al., , 1999Cava and Musitu, 2002;Kerpelman and Smith-Adcock, 2005;Estévez et al., 2012;Sánchez et al., 2012). Among these behaviors, bullying is noted as a group problem in the literature (Sekol and Farrington, 2013;Garandeau and Lansu, 2019;Harrison et al., 2021) that is receiving increasing attention over the last decade in terms of prevalence and consequences (Williams et al., 2018). ...
... Thus, for this purpose, adolescents choose a particular self-image with which to make this reputation public through visible actions in the peer group, which, in turn, becomes a key factor for the regulation of social behavior (Bartolomé and Díaz, 2020). Diverse research have shown that, for some adolescents, positive reputation and status is achieved through involvement in transgressive and violent behaviors in the classroom (Emler, 1990;Carroll, 1995;Emler andReicher, 1995, 2005;Carroll et al., 1996Carroll et al., , 1997Carroll et al., , 1999Cava and Musitu, 2002;Kerpelman and Smith-Adcock, 2005;Estévez et al., 2012;Sánchez et al., 2012). Among these behaviors, bullying is noted as a group problem in the literature (Sekol and Farrington, 2013;Garandeau and Lansu, 2019;Harrison et al., 2021) that is receiving increasing attention over the last decade in terms of prevalence and consequences (Williams et al., 2018). ...
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Numerous studies have analyzed the relationship between sociometric status and bullying but it is difficult to reach a consensus regarding this issue. Objective The present study carried out a systematic review on the sociometric status of adolescent bullies. Design The bibliographic search was carried out in the mainly databases. Results The findings of 29 studies selected defend three positions. First, bullying is associated with the popular status in their peer group. Second, rejected or unpopular adolescents tend to perpetrate bullying as a response to the frustration generated by their status. Finally, other group the perpetrators of bullying is among these two poles. Conclusions The students' sociometric status is necessary for designing bullying intervention programs at school.
... Cei doi profesori de la Northestern University au găsit diferențe în conținutul bârfelor în funcție de sex, mai precis în funcție de "rolul de sex": studentele discutau despre prietenii apropiați și despre membrii familiei, în timp ce studenții își centrau discuțiile asupra cunoștințelor mai îndepărtate și asupra celebrităților din mass-media (Levin, Arluke, 1985, p. 285). Profesorul Nicholas Emler de la University of Dundee (Scoția, UK) a găsit că bârfirea persoanelor cunoscute este cea mai frecventă practică, după autodezvăluire (Emler, 1990). ...
... Sensibilitatea la bârfă s-a schimbat, oamenii sunt mai interesați să-și apere reputația, rețelele sociale sunt mai dense ca niciodată (cf. Emler, 1990). Globalizarea și Internetul au dat naștere unei "culturi a bârfei" (Klatschkultur), care nu recunoaște granițele dintre state și sfidează depărtarea dintre continente, apreciază publicistul și sociologul german Christian Schuldt (2009). ...
... Even in contemporary industrialized societies, day-to-day exchanges still revolve around a small personal network (Emler, 1990). At the same time, people frequently interact and cooperate at a much larger scale (e.g. trade and exchange networks, information sharing networks, institutions, corporations, etc.). ...
Conference Paper
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In the field of cognitive archaeology, the origin of art has been recurrently explained as a result of the transition to a fully symbolic mind in our species, H. sapiens. Recent data is challenging that view as increasing evidence shows that the cognitive differences between 'premodern' and modern human populations are smaller than previously thought. Yet, possible cases of Neanderthal and other hominin art are few and far between, rendering artistic practices mainly a H. sapiens phenomenon. To explain this, it is necessary to redefine art and understand it not only as the product of cognitive operations, but as a behavior embedded in modern human social interactions.
... In other words, it becomes critical to pay attention to the facts, beliefs, and therefore reputation surrounding a particular food. In doing so, one must then remember that reputational beliefs toward particular social agents can sometimes develop without direct experience and by relying on the experiences of others (Emler, 1990). ...
The research aims to investigate how the reputation of foods and the emotions elicited by it predict the willingness to eat certain foods. Specifically, the study analyzed a regression model that investigates the impact of “food reputation” on “willingness to eat” through the sequential mediation of “food emotions” (positive and negative) and “food preference” in both participants' preferred food (pizza) and their dispreferred food (offal). Analysis revealed that “food reputation” generally has a positive and significant indirect effect (through the mediation of “food emotions” and “food preference”) on the “willingness to eat” both preferred and dispreferred food. It also emerged a positive mediation effect of “positive food emotions” in predicting the “willingness to eat” both preferred and dispreferred food. Regarding “negative food emotions” these have a negative mediation effect in predicting “willingness to eat” the dispreferred food. Results finally showed that both positive and negative food emotions have a greater impact on the “willingness to eat” the dispreferred food than the preferred one. The results highlight how emotions related to a particular food significantly influence the willingness to eat it. However, a clear predominance of cognitive factors (food reputation) over emotional factors in predicting the “willingness to eat” of both preferred and dispreferred foods was also found. This predominance is also confirmed by the latest hypothesis, which shows that foods with a worse reputation are also those that are more influenced by elicited emotions (both positive and negative).
... In International Relations, the benefits of consistency-and the costs of inconsistency-have been mostly addressed in the context of signalling in international crises where leaders are said to potentially incur audience costs when making commitments that they later renege on. 71 In social psychology, it is well understood that 'behaving in the sight of a community and in the long run in ways that are consistent and consistently interpretable' 72 is key to maintaining a particular reputation. In management studies, it is widely recognised that firms can enhance the effectiveness of the signals they send to audiences of interest by increasing their number while at the same time making sure that they are consistent with each other. ...
... Concerning social norms, we argue that the aforementioned considerations are especially prevalent among people who care about others' opinions. This factor is known in the literature as "reputational concern," the extent to which people are concerned about their reputation (Emler 1990). We consider this to be an important factor in our analysis as reputational concern derives from a social mechanism which is closely related to a person's sense of belonging (e.g., Cavazza, Pagliaro, and Guidetti 2014;De Cremer 2002;De Cremer and Tyler 2005;Pagliaro et al. 2016). ...
Considering the growing need to protect nature and acknowledging has intrinsic desires to do so what happens when social, community based motives are seen to align with pro-environmental behavior? Specifically, the hypothesis addressed in this study is that individuals engaged in actions to protect the natural environment at least partly to improve their sense of belonging to their community
... Concerning social norms, we argue that the aforementioned considerations are especially prevalent among people who care about others' opinions. This factor is known in the literature as "reputational concern," the extent to which people are concerned about their reputation (Emler 1990). We consider this to be an important factor in our analysis as reputational concern derives from a social mechanism which is closely related to a person's sense of belonging (e.g., Cavazza, Pagliaro, and Guidetti 2014;De Cremer 2002;De Cremer and Tyler 2005;Pagliaro et al. 2016). ...
Considering the growing need to protect nature and acknowledging that not everyone has intrinsic desires to do so, what happens when social, community-based motives are seen to align with pro-environmental behavior? Specifically, the hypothesis addressed in this study is that individuals engage in actions to protect the natural environment at least partly to improve their sense of belonging to their community. To test this hypothesis, we distributed an online survey in rural regions of the UK. We found that particularly people who are concerned about their reputation and have a strong desire to belong engage in conservation actions. Our findings support the hypothesis that people conserve the environment to enhance their sense of belonging and illustrate that there are different additional processes at work that affect the relationship between desire to belong and engagement in conservation actions.
How can moral transgressors rebuild their image as good people? Using affect control theory, I hypothesize that prosociality—benefitting others—will blunt negative impressions of a norm violator. I also hypothesize that benefitting good or weak people—and not bad or powerful people—will amplify the positive effect of prosociality. In two survey-vignette studies, participants reported their perceptions about a man who takes money from a found wallet—unethical behavior—and gives or does not give it to someone else—prosocial behavior. Results show prosociality redeems violators more when they help good rather than bad persons. In certain situations, helping powerless persons is more image revamping than helping powerful persons.
Large racial disparities plague discipline in schools across the United States which contributes to racial disparities in life outcomes such as education attainment and incarceration. The present research investigates the role a student's reputation – as shared from one teacher to another one – plays in the discipline context. Teachers (N = 192) read about two incidents of misbehavior and reported the severity of discipline the student should receive and the likelihood that they would label the student as a “troublemaker.” They were randomly assigned to read about a Black or White student and to hear from a fellow teacher that the student had a good or bad reputation. Analyses revealed a three-way interaction such that a good reputation buffers against an escalation in discipline severity for a White, but not Black, student. A White student with a bad, as compared to good reputation, received a meaningful escalation in discipline, was more likely to be labeled a troublemaker, and was deemed more likely to get suspended in the future. Meanwhile, reputation was somewhat inconsequential for a Black student. The current research advances theory on the implication of racial bias in context and informs policy for how information is shared among teachers.
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Technological development leads to new forms of primary group structure. It demands differential mobility which makes traditional primary groups hard to maintain. However, it also provides mechanisms which permit new types of primary groups. Thus, contacts among extended family kin can be maintained despite breaks in face-to-face contact; neighborhoods can exist despite rapid membership turnover; and friendships can continue despite both of these problems. This is possible because technology permits rapid communication over distance and rapid group indoctrination. It is hypothesized that because of differences in structure, neighbors can best handle immediate emergencies; kin, long term commitments; and friends, heterogeneity. Data from Hungary and U.S.A. are used to illustrate the point.
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Attempts to organize, summarize, or explain one's own behavior in a particular domain result in the formation of cognitive structures about the self or self-schemata. Self-schemata are cognitive generalizations about the self, derived from past experience, that organize and guide the processing of the self-related information contained in an individual's social experience. The role of schemata in processing information about the self was examined in 2 experiments by linking self-schemata to a number of specific empirical referents. In Exp I, 48 female undergraduates either with schemata in a particular domain or without schemata were selected using the Adjective Check List, and their performance on a variety of cognitive tasks was compared. In Exp II, the selective influence of self-schemata on interpreting information about one's own behavior was investigated in 47 Ss. Results of both experiments indicate that self-schemata facilitate the processing of information about the self, contain easily retrievable behavioral evidence, provide a basis for the confident self-prediction of behavior on schema-related dimensions, and make individuals resistant to counterschematic information. The relationship of self-schemata to cross-situational consistency in behavior and the implications of self-schemata for attribution theory are discussed. (23 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
This chapter focuses on psychological processes in moral internalization. Psychologists have long been intrigued with moral internalization because it epitomizes the age-old problem of how individuals come to manage the inevitable conflict between personal needs and social obligations. There is a theoretical disagreement that revolves around socialization experiences that are most likely to foster the internalization process. The chapter reviews the rather large body of pertinent research and evaluates it in relation to the guiding theoretical notions. Three broad categories are presented that encompass most of the research—parental discipline, identification and modeling, and cognitive disequilibrium. Consistency of moral behavior and the influence of the situation that does not deal directly with internalization but has a definite bearing on it are discussed in the chapter. Though limited in focus, the variety of research designs, measuring instruments, and theoretical concepts attest to the complex, multifaceted nature of moral internalization. Each approach appears to capture a part of reality and each hypothesis can claim some empirical support, though none has yet been subject to the crucial test.
Previous research has indicated a relationship between the political orientations of conservative versus radical and the styles of moral reasoning characterized in Kohlberg's (1976) cognitive-developmental theory as the Conventional and Principled levels. Conservatives are more likely to reason at the Conventional level and radicals at the Principled level. The only interpretation of this relationship consistent with Kohlberg's theory is that radicals are relatively more morally mature than conservatives. An alternative view is that the Conventional-Principled distinction in moral reasoning is not developmental but reflects differences in the content of politicomoral ideology. Consistent with this view it was found that expression of these alternative moral reasoning styles conveys to others clear information about political identity but none about relative cognitive sophistication.
An experiment within a questionnaire was designed to isolate factors that would predict the honoring of accounts. Subjects acted as bystanders and read short vignettes describing an interaction containing an offense by one actor, a demand for an account by the other, and an account by the former. The context and offense, the type of account, and the status relationship between demander and accounter were systematically varied. After reading each vignette, subjects rated the offense, the demand, the account, and the accounter on several dimensions. Factors found to affect the prediction of honoring behavior were: the moral worth of the offender, his penitence, his superior status relative to the demander, and the offensiveness of the violation. Honorability was predicted by moral worth, the offender's personal control over the offense, and the appropriateness of the demand. Differences in the prediction of honoring behavior and honorability were discussed.
IN a recent paper, Berger et al argue that traditional concepts of honour and reputation have been eroded as a consequence of subjective adaptations to modern industrial society. However, historical analysis of English libel laws suggests that honour and reputation are ideological elements whose contents are broadly specified by distinct modes of production. Thus feudal honour was an aristocratic class ideology which was necessarily transformed by the rise of commodity relations. Moreover, subsequent commodification of honour in English law derives from and reflects the emergence of capitalist forces rather than more general forces of modernization. The corollary of this observation is that in modern socialist laws, honour and reputation differ substantially from the parallel concepts in English and United States law, strongly reflecting a specifically socialist ideology.
The Community Question has set the agenda for much or much of sociology. It is the question of how large-scale social systemic divisions of labor affect the organization and content of primary ties. Network analysis is proposed as a useful approach to the Community Question, because, by focusing on linkages, it avoids the a priori confinement of analysis to solidary groupings and territorial units. Three contentions about the Question are evaluated: arguments that Community is Lost, Saved or Liberted. Data are presented about the structure and use of the "intimate" networks of 845 adult residents of East York, Toronto. Intimate networks are found to be prevalent, composed of both kin and nonkin, nonlocal, asymmetric, and of sparse density. Help in dealing with both emergencies and everyday matters is available from almost all intimate networks, but from only a minority of intimate ties. The data provide broad support for the Liberated argument, in conjunction with some portions of the Saved argument.
Converse (1964) proposed the black-an-white model of attitude stability to describe over-time resonses to repeated questions. The model consist of two groups who are maximally heterogeneous on the crystallization dimension of attitudes. The class of "true attitude" holders provides an identical response at each time period with certainty; the over-time responses of the class of "nonattitude" holders are statistically independent. Previous research employing this model with three-wave panel data has considered all respondents who provided even one "no opinion" or equivocal response as nonopinion holders and combined this group with the estimated nonattitudes under the model. This results in very high levels of nonattitudes. In this research, an argument is developed for treating the nonsubstantive responses probabilitstically. When the tabulations analyzed include an equivocal response category, the simple black-and-white model no longer fits. An alternative black-gray-white model is proposed that fits the...
Previous findings indicating a relationship between moral reasoning and political orientation have been interpreted as reflecting the influence of the level of moral maturity on political attitudes. The present study investigated the alternative possibility that individual differences in adult moral reasoning reflect differences in content of politico-moral idealogy. 73 undergraduates, defining themselves politically as left wing, moderate, or right wing, completed a measure of moral reasoning (Defining Issues Test), once from their own perspective and once from the point of view of either a conservative or a radical. Left-wingers achieved significantly higher scores on principled moral reasoning than did the other 2 groups. However, both right-wing and moderate Ss significantly increased their principled-reasoning scores if they responded as a radical. Results support the view that variations in adult moral reasoning are a function of political position rather than development status. (27 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)