When does gossip promote generosity? Indirect reciprocity under the shadow of the future

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    Reputation through gossip is a key mechanism promoting cooperation. The present research proposes that gossip promotes cooperation when one anticipates future interdependence with the gossip recipient (Hypothesis 1), that this effect is more pronounced for proself, compared to prosocial, individuals (Hypothesis 2), and explores the mediating role of reputational concern and expected indirect benefits in the relation between gossip and cooperation. Results from three studies supported these hypotheses, showing that people are more generous in response to gossip to their future interaction partner(s), compared with gossip to other(s) they would never meet or no gossip. Moreover, proselfs, compared with prosocials, showed a larger increase in generosity when they anticipated future interactions with the gossip recipient(s). The observed gossip-based generosity was primarily mediated by reputational concern rather than expected indirect benefits from future partners, and the mediation of reputational concern was more pronounced for proselfs than for prosocials.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)923-930
    JournalSocial Psychological & Personality Science
    Issue number8
    Early online date24 Jul 2015
    Publication statusPublished - 2015


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