Encyclopedia of Animal Cognition and Behavior

Living Edition
| Editors: Jennifer Vonk, Todd Shackelford

Honest Signaling

  • Irena PetakEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-47829-6_1666-1


Honest signaling conveys information that is a true indicator of the underlying quality of the sender and it is useful to the receiver.


In animal communication, information is transmitted from a sender (signaler) to a receiver, and the receiver acts upon the signal (McFarland 2006). Signals can be “honest” when giving reliable information or “dishonest” when the sender is sending out false information to a receiver (Laidre and Johnstone 2013).

Evolution of Honest Signaling

According to signaling theory for a signal to be preserved in the population, the interaction should be beneficial for the sender and receiver. Furthermore, the honest signal should convey information that the receiver cannot obtain in another way. Honest signaling does not need to be perfectly informative, but it needs to be useful, so that certain behavioral responses to the signal are advantageous, in comparison with the behavior that would occur in absence of the signal. Therefore, honest...

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ZagrebCroatia

Section editors and affiliations

  • Shannon M. Digweed
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyMacEwan UniversityEdmontonCanada