A2 Review article, Literature review, Systematic review
Content, cost, and context : A framework for understanding human signaling systems (2019)

Barker, J. L., Power, E. A., Heap, S., Puurtinen, M., & Sosis, R. (2019). Content, cost, and context : A framework for understanding human signaling systems. Evolutionary Anthropology, 28(2), 86-99. https://doi.org/10.1002/evan.21768

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Barker, Jessica L.; Power, Eleanor A.; Heap, Stephen; Puurtinen, Mikael; Sosis, Richard

Journal or series: Evolutionary Anthropology

ISSN: 1060-1538

eISSN: 1520-6505

Publication year: 2019

Volume: 28

Issue number: 2

Pages range: 86-99

Publisher: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Publication country: United States

Publication language: English

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/evan.21768

Publication open access: Not open

Publication channel open access:

Publication is parallel published (JYX): https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/63781

Publication is parallel published: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/100285


Humans frequently perform extravagant and seemingly costly behaviors, such as widely sharing hunted resources, erecting conspicuous monumental structures, and performing dramatic acts of religious devotion. Evolutionary anthropologists and archeologists have used signaling theory to explain the function of such displays, drawing inspiration from behavioral ecology, economics, and the social sciences. While signaling theory is broadly aimed at explaining honest communication, it has come to be strongly associated with the handicap principle, which proposes that such costly extravagance is in fact an adaptation for signal reliability. Most empirical studies of signaling theory have focused on obviously costly acts, and consequently anthropologists have likely overlooked a wide range of signals that also promote reliable communication. Here, we build on recent developments in signaling theory and animal communication, developing an updated framework that highlights the diversity of signal contents, costs, contexts, and reliability mechanisms present within human signaling systems. By broadening the perspective of signaling theory in human systems, we strive to identify promising areas for further empirical and theoretical work.

Keywords: anthropology; evolutionary psychology; communication; signals

Free keywords: handicap principle; honest signaling; sender and receiver; signaling theory

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Related projects

Ministry reporting: Yes

Reporting Year: 2019

JUFO rating: 2

Last updated on 2021-10-06 at 13:52