Social monitoring by reputation: how to compare humans and animals in an evolutionary framework?

Russell, Yvan I. ORCID: (2010) Social monitoring by reputation: how to compare humans and animals in an evolutionary framework? In: Primate Society of Great Britain (PSGB) spring meeting, University of Abertay, Dundee, Scotland,. . [Conference or Workshop Item]


Reputation is usually defined as an entirely human construct. This is because the majority of studies in human disciplines (economics, commerce, psychology, etc.) define reputation as a sort of one dimensional yardstick whereupon the same information is accessible to everyone. This definition is of limited usefulness to animal studies because it requires language ability and ubiquitous sources of public information. The exact psychological processes that underlay social reputation monitoring are poorly understood even in humans. In order to begin a comparative study of human and animal reputation monitoring, “reputation” should be redefined in a way that accommodates all animals. Here, I present a framework for investigating the evolution of social monitoring abilities across all animal taxa. I define reputation as “knowledge about an individual’s typical behaviour, based on a knowledge of that individual’s past behaviour” (Russell, 2007). The psychological process of reputation monitoring should be dissected into its constituent parts in order to compare the abilities between animals in a componential way (this approach is similar to Hockett’s design features approach to language). Most organisms are capable of some form of social eavesdropping and intention reading, but the smallest brained animals are unlikely to cogitate much on the personalities of their conspecifics. At the human end of the continuum, social reputation monitoring probably involves a type of social expertise. It is important to be aware, however, that human social expertise will necessarily involve a series of memory distortions, affected by highly emotional events, schema effects, primacy, and recency.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Poster)
Research Areas: A. > School of Science and Technology > Psychology
Item ID: 18296
Depositing User: Yvan Russell
Date Deposited: 22 Oct 2015 09:18
Last Modified: 13 Oct 2016 14:37

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