Human Nature 18 (4):295-312 (2007)

The branch of evolutionary theory known as signaling theory attempts to explain various forms of communication. Social scientists have explained many traditional rituals as forms of communication that promote cooperative social relationships among participants. Both evolutionists and social scientists have realized the importance of trust for the formation and maintenance of cooperative social relationships. These factors have led to attempts to apply signaling theory to traditional cultural rituals in various ways. This paper uses the traditional ritual of mumming in small Newfoundland fishing villages to evaluate alternative hypotheses about the connection between rituals, communication, trust, and cooperation. Mumming is found to be most consistent with the hypothesis that it is a ritual of trust wherein participants take a specific type of risk: the risk of harm at the hands of other participants. Individuals who take this risk actively signal their trust. Conversely, individuals who restrain themselves from inflicting harm on other participants actively signal their trustworthiness
Keywords Newfoundland  Ritual  Signaling theory  Trust
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s12110-007-9020-2
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 70,091
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

View all 12 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles


Added to PP index

Total views
11 ( #852,155 of 2,506,155 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #416,984 of 2,506,155 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes