How to react to gossip? An Agent Based Model to study how gossip reaction mechanisms impact cooperation.

Collaboration with Bianca Beersma, Francesca Giaridni, Terence D. Dores Cruz & Charlotte Hemelrijk

Both theoretical (Lee & Barnes, 2020) and empirical evidence (Testori, Dores Cruz & Beersma, submitted) shows that a key factor to understand how gossip influences group dynamics relies on the interpretation that individuals have of the information they receive. In other words, depending on the reason individuals attribute gossip to (which we refer to as the gossip motive), they react differently towards both the sender and the target of gossip. While this argument has been tested empirically in a lab experiment (Testori, Dores Cruz & Beersma, under review), it remains unclear what the emergent effects (i.e., if there are non-linear effects that cannot be analytically predicted) of such dynamics on groups are.

Initial models of gossip were very idealised, while more recent models have introduced the concepts of noise, honesty and lies to better depict the complex phenomenon of gossip. However, an important aspect of human interaction is often overlooked: In the real world, people do not simply accept what they receive but they elaborate the information. Hence, in our agent-based model we introduced gossip interpretation by the receiver. Through this model, we implement this missing mechanism in the modelisation of gossip. The question now is: Will gossip still promote cooperation?