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Title: Do the middle shout loudest? : signs and (counter) signals of trustworthiness and toughness
Author: Szekely, Aron
ISNI:       0000 0004 5369 7745
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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What do we do when we realise that others with whom we interact already know something about relevant qualities of ours? Do we relying on the information that we naturally emit to get our message across, or do we take actions to try to change the situation in our favour? And, does the information that we emit, generated intentionally or unintentionally, allow us to cooperate with others and conflict to be resolved peacefully? Drawing on signalling and 'countersignalling' theories, and a recent behavioural theory, I explore these questions using two experiments in which the relevant qualities are trustworthiness and toughness, and observational data from the 1997 Survey of Inmates in State and Federal Correctional Facilities concerning violence among prisoners. In the experiments, subjects, who do not know what will follow, initially create a natural indicator of their qualities, and subsequently, have the opportunity to send another indicator, this time fully informed. In one experiment, consistent with countersignalling theory, subjects whose generosity is clear deign to send further information, while those whose generosity can be called under question choose to update their initial action the most. In the other, the toughest subjects put the most effort into getting their message across. Consistent among both, senders' actions correspond to receivers' evaluations. Finally, I find that pertinent information can allow conflicts to be resolved successfully; it is linked with less violence in prison and in a laboratory-based contest.
Supervisor: Gambetta, Diego Sponsor: Economic and Social Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Social Sciences ; Sociology ; Rational choice and signalling theory ; Information ; Costly signals ; Trust ; Toughness ; Conflict ; Laboratory experiments