Power, C. (1998). Old wives tales: The gossip hypothesis and the reliability of cheap signals. In J. R. Hurford, M. Studdert-Kennedy, & C. Knight (Eds.), Approaches to the evolution of language: Social and cognitive bases (pp. 111-129). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (M)

What advantage does vocal communication have over grooming in servicing social relationships?  What implications does this have for the evolution of language?

 Why are coalitionary alliances especially important to lower-ranking females? 

 What is meant by a “costly to fake” sign of commitment and why is it important? What might the connection be between grooming and ritual as signs of commitment?

 How is it possible to move from intrinsically pleasurable vocal communication to socially informative social communication?

 What is the gossip hypothesis of language evolution and why does unreliability of vocal information or its “cheapness” undermine this hypothesis?

 Describe the resourcing problem faced by females as they dealt with increasingly larger-brained infants.

 How did concealed ovulation affect male reproductive strategies?

 Describe how ritual could be used to take power away from an individual female seeking to secure male provision and spread it to an entire group of females.

 How might ritual act as the “costly to fake” guarantor of vocal signals?

 What predication does the “sham menstruation” model make and what archeological evidence is there to support it?

 How does the coercive nature of female initiation rituals correspond to the traditional African sense of personhood?

 What role do taboos play in female initiation rites?

 What role do group coordinated movements play in female initiation rites?

 How does Dunbar theorize vocalization developed?

Why are vocalizations theoretically a more efficient method of social bonding than physical grooming, and why, ultimately, do they wind up being less efficient?

What two variables (one biological, one social) are related to group size? Explain.

Describe the feedback loop that drives the evolution of larger more social groups.

Why does Power argue that ritual necessarily must have coevolved with vocalizations in order to provide a more efficient means of social bonding over physical grooming?