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Behav Brain Sci. 2012 Feb;35(1):25. doi: 10.1017/S0140525X11001233.

Gossip as an effective and low-cost form of punishment.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720-1650, USA.


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.

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