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Gossip as an effective and low-cost form of punishment

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  31 January 2012

Matthew Feinberg
Department of Psychology, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720-1650. matthewfeinberg@berkeley.edu
Joey T. Cheng
Department of Psychology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z4, Canada.
Robb Willer
Department of Sociology, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720-1980. willer@berkeley.edu


The spreading of reputational information about group members through gossip represents a widespread, efficient, and low-cost form of punishment. Research shows that negative arousal states motivate individuals to gossip about the transgressions of group members. By sharing information in this way groups are better able to promote cooperation and maintain social control and order.

Open Peer Commentary
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2012

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