program

Aim of the project

This project aims at mapping the conditions under which the spread of reputational (i.e. third-party or second-hand) information through affects the dynamics of interpersonal relations in the workplace (who befriends whom, and who stays friends with whom over time).

Theoretical background

Reputation constitutes a crucial factor in the formation and subsequent evolution of interpersonal relations. Reputations often spread through gossip during casual conversations. From the point of view of the person who receives the information, what is known about others helps navigating social environments – even if the information is based on someone else’s prior experience. Lab experiments conducted showed that gossip indeed has an impact on the creation of relationships. For instance, positive reputation tends to encourage partner-selection, whilst negative reputation may trigger avoidance and ostracism. Other research showed that even when gossip receiver and target are already connected to each other, there is still room for reputation-based effects on their relationship: hearing gossip about one’s conteact may either lead to corrections of person perceptions or reinforce existing predispositions.

This project elucidates under which circumstances workplace gossip triggers the creation and sustains the maintenance of interpersonal relations in organizations, taking into consideration the multidimensional nature of reputation, organizational context conditions like workplace culture, and the co-evolution of gossip and social networks.

Research design

A mixed methods research design is used, combining analyses of existing longitudinal sociometric three-way data with newly designed lab experiments.

PhD Student

José Luis Estévez

Supervisor(s)

Prof. dr. Rafael Wittek 
Dr. Francesca Giardini

Location

University of Groningen, Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences, Department of Sociology

Discipline

Sociology

Period

September 15, 2017 - August 14, 2021

Funding

University of Groningen / "La Caixa" Foundation

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