Information transmission in young children: When social information is more important than nonsocial information

Nicola McGuigan*, Marcus Cubillo

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    13 Citations (Scopus)


    The authors aim was to use a highly novel open diffusion paradigm to investigate the transmission of social information (i.e., gossip) and general knowledge within 2 groups of 10- and 11-year-old children. Four children, 2 from each group, acted as a primed information source, selected on the basis of sex and dominance ranking (high or low) within the group. Each source received 1 piece of gossip and 1 piece of general knowledge from the experimenter during natural class interaction, and the information was allowed to diffuse naturally within the group. Results revealed that gossip was transmitted more frequently than knowledge, and that male sources were more likely to transmit gossip than female sources. The relationship between characteristics of the source, and characteristics of the gossip recipient, also appeared influential with the dominant male source transmitting gossip to exclusively to friends, and the nondominant male source transmitting to individuals of higher peer regard than themselves.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)605-619
    Number of pages15
    JournalThe Journal of Genetic Psychology
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - 2013


    • gossip
    • open diffusion
    • source dominance
    • source sex
    • transmission biases

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Developmental and Educational Psychology
    • Clinical Psychology
    • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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