The application of animal signaling theory to human phenomena: Some thoughts and clarifications

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Abstract

Animal signaling theory has recently become popular among anthropologists as a way to study human communication. One aspect of animal signaling theory, often known as costly signaling or handicap theory, has been used particularly often. This article makes four points regarding these developments: (1) signaling theory is broader than existing studies may make it seem; (2) costly signaling theory has roots in the social as well as the biological sciences; (3) not all honest signals are costly and not all costs borne by signalers serve to ensure honesty; and (4) hard-to-fake signals are favored when the interests of broad categories of signalers and receivers conflict but the interests of individual signalers and receivers converge.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)603-620
Number of pages18
JournalSocial Science Information
Volume44
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Library and Information Sciences

Keywords

  • Costly signaling theory
  • Costly signals
  • Hard-to-fake signals
  • Honest signals
  • Receiver psychology
  • Signaling theory
  • Signals

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