Language and the free-rider problem: An experimental paradigm

Biological Theory 3 (2):174-183 (2008)
Change and variation, while inherent to language, might be seen as running counter to human communicative needs. However, variation also gives language the power to convey reliable indexical information about the speaker. This has been argued to play a significant role in allowing the establishment of large communities based on cooperative exchange , although there has been little experimental investigation of the hypothesis. Here I present a preliminary study intended to help fill this gap. Participants played an online team game in which they negotiated anonymously for resources using an artificial language. Players succeeded in using linguistic cues to distinguish between their teammates and their opponents, and displayed between-team variation in the use of the language
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DOI 10.1162/biot.2008.3.2.174
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Language Evolution in the Laboratory.Thomas C. Scott-Phillips & Simon Kirby - 2010 - Trends in Cognitive Sciences 14 (9):411-417.

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