Reputation is based on two things: behavior plus an audience. In its most basic definition, “reputation” is an information source (Russell 2016). Any episode of animal behavior is a potential signal to another animal (Danchin et al. 2004), even if that signal was not a deliberate intention to communicate.
Consider the example of territorial urine marking in mice. When a mouse urinates in your house, that urine deposit is a meaningful signal for other mice (Hurst 2005). In many animals, scent marks have an important role in social communication, allowing “recognition of group members and kin, the advertisement of territory ownership and social dominance, assessment of the quality of competitors and potential mates, and the advertisement and control of reproductive status” (Hurst 2005, p. 220). After a mouse deposits urine, the scent stays behind in the absence of the signaler, detectable by other mice passing near....
- Adams, E. S. (2001). Threat displays in animal communication: Handicaps, reputations, and commitments. In R. M. Nesse (Ed.), Evolution and the capacity for commitment (pp. 99–119). New York: Russell Sage Press.Google Scholar
- Haviland, J. B. (1977). Gossip, reputation, and knowledge in Zinacantan. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
- Herrmann, E., Keupp, S., Hare, B., Vaish, A., & Tomasello, M. (2013). Direct and indirect reputation formation in nonhuman great apes (Pan paniscus, Pan troglodytes, Gorilla gorilla, Pongo pygmaeus) and human children (Homo sapiens). Journal of Comparative Psychology, 127, 63–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Maynard Smith, J., & Harper, D. (2003). Animal signals. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Russell, Y. I. (2016). Reciprocity and reputation: A review of direct and indirect information gathering. Journal of Mind and Behavior, 37, 247–270.Google Scholar