Friday, December 11, 2009

Signaling, Counter-Signaling, and Counter Counter Signaling

Like a peacock's tail advertises it's health and vigor, humans signal status through various means.
But the funny thing is, depending on the situation, sometimes NOT signaling is a HIGH LEVEL move.

So I found this interesting paper on signaling, counter-signaling, and counter-counter-signaling.

An idea that Counter-Signaling = Confidence, and that Signaling can be interpreted as Lack of Confidence depending on the situation.

The paper has a decent example using Job Interviewees and signaling grades with the addition of recommendation letters as the additional quality cue.

The paper posits that signaling theory makes more sense if you also take into account the ACTUAL status of the actor in addition to whether they signal or not.


For instance, imagine if the only signaling difference between a low level actor (A), and mid level actor (B), and high level actor(C) is signaling status through conspicuous consumption (bling and flash). If the bling is a weak indicator, it only really separates out the A actor from the group of B and C.  B has to signal because that's the only way he won't be mistaken for an A.  But C is so bad ass that he can afford to NOT signal, because if there are other cues to status, then C doesn't have to signal at all.  So in terms of signaling C looks a lot like A, except for the difference in actual status and the cues that go with that.

For instance, stating you have good grades when you have them may be unnecessary if every other cue about you is solid.  In fact it may be better to not even mention your grades because you know you will have good reviews in addition to the grades when they look at them.

Example:  Actor A has a 1990 honda civic, Actor B has a Mercedes, Actor C has a honda civic... because he owns a G5 Private Jet, he doesn't spend time driving......  Now actor C is truly ballin.

So sometimes BUT not always, signaling is a mid level move....

If the cost of signaling for type B actors is too high then they will NOT signal, thus C type actors will have to signal now because their lack of signaling does not separate them from B actors anymore.

Also in the paper is Counter-Counter-Signaling where... in competition amongst High level actors, sometimes the best move to trump Counter-Signaling is Counter-Counter-Signaling which is just Signaling all over again....this reminds me of the following clip from the BIG HIT



The great part about this is in a later scene in this movie... the Japanese guy busts out a Trace BUSTER BUSTER BUSTER and BUSTS his TRACE BUSTERx2

The paper has a decent example using Job Interviewees and signaling grades with the addition of recommendation letters as the additional quality cue.

The funny thing is this is 'almost' a game theoretic argument for ironic indie-hipster culture.

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