MAS 965: Signalling identity: some readings (in progress)

The theory of honest signalling

Amotz Zahavi - the handicap principle

Grafen's elucidation - game theory - handicap principle in context of communication - game asks when can costly signals be equilibrium strategies.

Veblen and the theory of conspicuous consumption - wasteful consumption to advertise wealth

Identity and deception in the virtual community

What about interpretation - the notion of communicative competence - is the person able to signal what it is that they wish to be signalling?  What is the relationship between signalling and knowledge - there is an additional layer that goes into the signal wich is the ability, the knowledge to produce that signal. If someone is honest, and wants to signal that charateristic, do they always know how to convey it?

The Theory of the Leisure Class Thorstein Veblen

Too cool for school: signalling and countersignaling. Nick Feltovich, Rick Harbaugh, and Ted To
Countersignalling - sign of confidence that you do not need say, "i'm the best" but are so clearly distinguished from the middle that you can signal as the least. Prevalent in socia signalling?  "Only by pooling with low types can high types successfully discourage medium types from mimicking their behavior. Mentions that informality is a form of countersignalling. Also relates to fashion, including interesting observation about cyclical fashion - most fashionable end up pooling with least fashionable (who had lagged) which is too risky for the mediums.

Time and Communication in Economic and Social Interaction A. Michael Spence The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Vol. 87, No. 4. (Nov., 1973), pp. 651-660.

Design Innovation and and Fashion Cycles Wolfgang Pesendorfer The American Economic Review, Vol. 85, No. 4. (Sep., 1995), pp. 771-792. (use along with other more culturally based fashion papers - example of quantifyiing fashion, but not necessarily best).

Gifts as Economic Signals and Social Symbols Colin Camerer The American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 94, Supplement: Organizations and Institutions: Sociological and Economic Approaches to the Analysis of Social Structure. (1988), pp. S180-S214.
Gifts are "meaningful actions"" aka signals.
Use of "signal" here is like "assessment signal" in Zahavi etc.

Arak, A. and M. Enquist (1995) Conflict, receiver bias, and the evolution of signal form. Phil Trans R Soc Lond B (1355): 337-344.

Axelrod, Robert (1984) The Evolution of Cooperation. New York: Basic Books.

Axelrod, Robert and William D. Hamilton (1981) The evolution of cooperation. Science 211: 1390-1396.

Bergstrom, Carl and Leslie A. Real (2000) Towards a theory of mutual mate choice: lessons from two-sided matching. Evolutionary Ecology Research 2:493-508.\

Bergstrom, Carl. (2002) An Introduction to the Theory of Honest Signalling

J. Maynard Smith and D. Harper (1995) "Animal Signals: Models and Terminology" Journal of Theoretical Biology, 177:305-311.

E. Miller (1975) "Status Goods and Luxury Taxes" The American Journal of Economics and Sociology, 34:141-154.

Cosmides, Leda and John Tooby (1989) Evolutionary psychology and the generation of culture, part II: case study: a computational theory of social exchange. Ethology and Sociobiology 10: 51-97.

Boyd, Robert and Peter J. Richerson (1988) The evolution of reciprocity in sizable groups. Journal of Theoretical Biology 132: 337-356.

Boyd, Robert and Peter J. Richerson (1989) The evolution of indirect reciprocity. Social Networks 11: 213-236.

Boyd, Robert and Peter J. Richerson (1990) Group selection among alternative evolutionarily stable strategies. J. of Theoretical Biology 145: 331-342.

Boyd, Robert and Peter J. Richerson (1992) Punishment allows the evolution of cooperation (or anything else) in sizable groups. Ethology and Sociobiology 13:171-195.

Blurton Jones, Nicholas G. (1984) A selfish origin for human food sharing: tolerated theft. Ethology and Sociobiology 5: 1-3.

Spence, Michael (1973) Job market signaling. Quarterly J. of Economics 87:355-374.

Smith, Eric Alden, Samuel L. Bowles, and Herbert Gintis (in press) Cooperation and costly signaling. J. of Theoretical Biology. Ms available online at

Johnstone, Rufus A. (1995) Sexual selection, honest advertisement and the handicap principle: reviewing the evidence. Biological Reviews 70:1-65.

Johnstone, Rufus A. (1997) The evolution of animal signals. In Behavioural ecology: an evolutionary approach, ed. John R. Krebs and Nicholas B. Davies, pp. 155-178. Oxford: Blackwell.

Smith, E.A. and R. Bliege Bird (2003) Costly signaling and prosocial behavior. In: Herbert Gintis, Samuel Bowles, Robert Boyd, and Ernst Fehr (eds.) Moral Sentiments and Material Interests: On the Foundations of Cooperation in Economic Life. MIT Press: Cambridge.

Signaling Individual Identity versus Quality: A Model and Case Studies with Ruffs, Queleas, and House Finches James Dale,1,* David B. Lank,2,† and Hudson Kern Reeve1

Dawkins, M.S. & Guilford, T. 1991. The corruption of honest signalling. Anim. Behav. 41. 865-873.

Guilford, Tim and Marian Stamp Dawkins (1993) Receiver psychology and the design of animal signals. Trends in the Neurosciences 16:430-436.

Dawkins, R. & Krebs, J.R. 1978. Animal signals: information or manipulation? in J.R. Krebs and N. B. Davies (eds.) Behavioural Ecology: An Evolutionary Approach. pp. 282-313. Blackwell Scientific Publications, Oxford.

Grafen A. 1990b. Biological signals as handicaps. J. Theor. Biol. 144. 517-546.

Hauser, M. 1996. The Evolution of Communication. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Johnstone, R.A. & Grafen, A. 1991. Error-prone signalling. Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B 248, 229-233.

Krebs, J.R. & Davies, N.B. 1993. An Introduction to Behavioural Ecology. 3rd Edition. Oxford: Blackwell Scientific Publications.

Maynard Smith, J. 1974. The theory of games and the evolution of animal conflicts. J. Theor. Biol. 47. 209-221.

Zahavi, A. 1977. The cost of honesty (further remarks on the handicap principle). J. Theor. Biol. 67, 603-605.

Zahavi, A. 1993b.The fallacy of conventional signalling. The Royal Society Philosophical Transaction B. 340. 227-230.

Gambetti, Diego. Deceptive mimicry in humans. To be published in 2004. In S. Hurley and N. Chater (eds.), Perspective on Imitation: From Mirror Neurons to Memes, Cambridge: MIT Press.Ó Diego Gambetta, University of Oxford

Michael Bacharach and Diego Gambetti,2001Trust in Signs. Published in Karen Cook (ed.) Trust in Society. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2001, pp. 148-184