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Signaling

TagLast edit: 15 Jan 2022 5:01 UTC by dkirmani

Signaling is defined by Yvain as “a method of conveying information among not-necessarily-trustworthy parties by performing an action which is more likely or less costly if the information is true than if it is not true”. Some signaling is performed exclusively to impress others (to improve your status), and in some cases isn’t even worth that. In other cases, signaling is a side-effect of an otherwise useful activity.

For example, if doing something is easy for one type of person and hard for another type of person, you might do that thing just to get people to think you’re the former type of person, even if the thing isn’t in itself worth doing. This could explain many facets of human behavior, and reveal opportunities for reducing waste.

Not all signaling is about abilities. Signaling can also be about personality, current emotional state, beliefs, loyalty to a particular group, status within a group, etc.

Countersignaling is signaling that a naive observer might take to mean that one is the opposite of X, when in fact, one is X, used as a means to signal that one is, in fact, X. For example, aristocrats (“old money”) may forgo gaudy bling in order to signal that they are not nouveau riche (new money), which may lead some people to incorrectly assume that they are not rich.

Blog posts

by Robin Hanson

by others

See also

External links

What Is Sig­nal­ing, Really?

Scott Alexander12 Jul 2012 17:43 UTC
135 points
175 comments6 min readLW link

Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Re­quires Com­mon In­ter­ests or Differ­en­tial Sig­nal Costs

Zack_M_Davis26 Mar 2021 6:41 UTC
31 points
9 comments3 min readLW link

Sig­nal­ing isn’t about sig­nal­ing, it’s about Goodhart

Valentine6 Jan 2022 18:49 UTC
63 points
31 comments9 min readLW link

In­tel­lec­tual Hip­sters and Meta-Contrarianism

Scott Alexander13 Sep 2010 21:36 UTC
330 points
368 comments8 min readLW link

Virtue sig­nal­ing is some­times the best or the only met­ric we have

Holly_Elmore28 Apr 2022 4:52 UTC
40 points
44 comments5 min readLW link

Least Sig­nal­ing Ac­tivi­ties?

RobinHanson22 May 2009 2:46 UTC
31 points
103 comments1 min readLW link

To sig­nal effec­tively, use a non-hu­man, non-stop­pable enforcer

Clippy22 May 2010 22:03 UTC
39 points
167 comments2 min readLW link

When Truth Isn’t Enough

Scott Alexander22 Mar 2009 20:23 UTC
130 points
59 comments3 min readLW link

Undis­crim­i­nat­ing Skepticism

Eliezer Yudkowsky14 Mar 2010 23:23 UTC
134 points
1,361 comments9 min readLW link

Science as Attire

Eliezer Yudkowsky23 Aug 2007 5:10 UTC
133 points
89 comments2 min readLW link

Ap­proval Ex­trac­tion Ad­ver­tised as Production

Benquo15 Dec 2019 14:51 UTC
82 points
39 comments19 min readLW link3 reviews
(benjaminrosshoffman.com)

My pa­per was sig­nal­ling the whole time—Robin Han­son wins again

rockthecasbah4 Aug 2020 21:13 UTC
49 points
19 comments2 min readLW link

Mo­tive Ambiguity

Zvi15 Dec 2020 18:10 UTC
171 points
59 comments4 min readLW link2 reviews
(thezvi.wordpress.com)

Mul­tidi­men­sional signaling

KatjaGrace16 Oct 2017 7:00 UTC
24 points
16 comments1 min readLW link
(meteuphoric.wordpress.com)

Re­plac­ing ex­pen­sive costly signals

KatjaGrace17 Feb 2018 0:50 UTC
30 points
13 comments1 min readLW link
(meteuphoric.wordpress.com)

Things You Can’t Countersignal

Alicorn19 Feb 2010 0:18 UTC
74 points
126 comments4 min readLW link

[Question] What de­ter­mines the bal­ance be­tween in­tel­li­gence sig­nal­ing and virtue sig­nal­ing?

Wei_Dai9 Dec 2019 0:11 UTC
68 points
37 comments2 min readLW link

A sig­nal­ing the­ory of class x poli­tics interaction

Scott Alexander17 Oct 2011 18:49 UTC
92 points
61 comments3 min readLW link

Sig­nal­ing: Why Peo­ple Have Conversations

liam_hinzman20 May 2020 3:18 UTC
15 points
21 comments3 min readLW link
(liamhinzman.com)

[Question] When a sta­tus sym­bol loses its plau­si­ble de­ni­a­bil­ity, how much power does it lose?

Mati_Roy7 Jul 2020 0:48 UTC
5 points
12 comments1 min readLW link

Not all sig­nal­ling/​sta­tus be­hav­iors are bad

Stabilizer25 Mar 2012 10:06 UTC
9 points
78 comments1 min readLW link

The strongest sta­tus signals

pwno6 Mar 2010 8:13 UTC
−5 points
48 comments2 min readLW link

Sig­nal­ing Strate­gies and Morality

MichaelVassar5 Mar 2010 21:09 UTC
20 points
50 comments3 min readLW link

Pre­tend­ing to be Wise

Eliezer Yudkowsky19 Feb 2009 22:30 UTC
118 points
78 comments4 min readLW link

Urges vs. Goals: The anal­ogy to an­ti­ci­pa­tion and belief

AnnaSalamon24 Jan 2012 23:57 UTC
120 points
71 comments7 min readLW link

The Align­ment-Com­pe­tence Trade-Off, Part 1: Coal­i­tion Size and Sig­nal­ing Costs

Gentzel15 Jan 2020 23:10 UTC
30 points
4 comments3 min readLW link
(theconsequentialist.wordpress.com)

What Does “Sig­nal­ling” Mean?

abramdemski16 Sep 2020 21:19 UTC
38 points
18 comments2 min readLW link

Sig­nal­ling & Si­mu­lacra Level 3

abramdemski14 Nov 2020 19:24 UTC
60 points
29 comments5 min readLW link

Con­spicu­ous saving

Matthew Barnett20 Mar 2021 20:59 UTC
49 points
42 comments2 min readLW link
(matthewbarnett.substack.com)

Im­pres­sive vs hon­est signaling

Adam Zerner26 Oct 2021 7:16 UTC
31 points
13 comments6 min readLW link

Nuanced and Ex­treme Countersignaling

AllAmericanBreakfast24 Jan 2022 6:47 UTC
27 points
9 comments6 min readLW link

Book re­view: Very Im­por­tant People

Richard_Ngo2 Apr 2022 19:00 UTC
102 points
17 comments3 min readLW link
(thinkingcomplete.blogspot.com)

An in­tro­duc­tion to sig­nal­ling theory

Mvolz16 Aug 2022 9:37 UTC
15 points
1 comment5 min readLW link

My Dat­ing Plan ala Ge­offrey Miller

snog toddgrass17 Jul 2020 4:52 UTC
2 points
57 comments3 min readLW link

Lost Purposes

Eliezer Yudkowsky25 Nov 2007 9:01 UTC
145 points
79 comments6 min readLW link

Manda­tory Obsessions

Jacob Falkovich14 Nov 2018 18:19 UTC
76 points
14 comments6 min readLW link

Hand­shakes, Hi, and What’s New: What’s Go­ing On With Small Talk?

Benquo2 Jan 2014 22:08 UTC
100 points
79 comments5 min readLW link

Every­body Knows

Zvi2 Jul 2019 12:20 UTC
116 points
20 comments4 min readLW link1 review
(thezvi.wordpress.com)

“Nahh, that wouldn’t work”

lionhearted28 Nov 2010 21:32 UTC
96 points
50 comments2 min readLW link

Guilt: Another Gift No­body Wants

Scott Alexander31 Mar 2011 0:27 UTC
97 points
103 comments8 min readLW link

The Sin­gu­lar­ity In­sti­tute’s Ar­ro­gance Problem

lukeprog18 Jan 2012 22:30 UTC
84 points
308 comments1 min readLW link

Why Real Men Wear Pink

Scott Alexander6 Aug 2009 7:39 UTC
95 points
155 comments3 min readLW link

Ad­vances in Baby Formula

Laura B9 Sep 2018 11:50 UTC
60 points
22 comments2 min readLW link

Trivers on Self-Deception

Scott Alexander12 Jul 2011 21:04 UTC
61 points
25 comments4 min readLW link

In a world… of ven­ture capital

Zvi15 May 2015 14:02 UTC
1 point
0 comments6 min readLW link

Truth: It’s Not That Great

ChrisHallquist4 May 2014 22:07 UTC
50 points
58 comments4 min readLW link

If we can’t lie to oth­ers, we will lie to ourselves

paulfchristiano26 Nov 2016 22:29 UTC
45 points
24 comments1 min readLW link
(sideways-view.com)

Help, help, I’m be­ing op­pressed!

Scott Alexander7 Apr 2009 23:22 UTC
40 points
145 comments5 min readLW link

The Sheep­skin Effect

Zvi5 May 2018 12:10 UTC
10 points
4 comments5 min readLW link
(thezvi.wordpress.com)

Cyn­i­cal About Cynicism

Eliezer Yudkowsky17 Feb 2009 0:49 UTC
56 points
27 comments2 min readLW link

Sig­nal seeding

KatjaGrace12 Oct 2017 7:00 UTC
8 points
5 comments1 min readLW link
(meteuphoric.wordpress.com)

Think Be­fore You Speak (And Sig­nal It)

Wei_Dai19 Mar 2010 22:21 UTC
35 points
40 comments2 min readLW link

Let the AI teach you how to flirt

AllAmericanBreakfast17 Sep 2020 19:04 UTC
47 points
11 comments2 min readLW link

More thoughts on assertions

Scott Alexander25 Mar 2010 1:39 UTC
28 points
31 comments6 min readLW link

Cyn­i­cism in Ev-Psych (and Econ?)

Eliezer Yudkowsky11 Feb 2009 15:06 UTC
33 points
39 comments4 min readLW link

Wise Preten­sions v.0

Eliezer Yudkowsky20 Feb 2009 17:02 UTC
15 points
23 comments5 min readLW link

De­clare your sig­nal­ing and hid­den agen­das

Kaj_Sotala13 Apr 2009 12:01 UTC
25 points
21 comments3 min readLW link

Notes on Loyalty

David Gross15 Nov 2020 19:30 UTC
17 points
2 comments8 min readLW link

What do bad clothes sig­nal about you?

Wei_Dai13 Jun 2011 17:48 UTC
26 points
82 comments1 min readLW link

Notes on Amiability

David Gross15 Feb 2021 19:34 UTC
15 points
9 comments6 min readLW link

[Question] How to build com­mon knowl­edge of ra­tio­nal­ity and hon­esty?

MikkW21 Feb 2021 6:07 UTC
5 points
4 comments1 min readLW link

Talk­ers and doers

Amir Bolous28 Apr 2021 4:26 UTC
−1 points
3 comments1 min readLW link

Notes on Dignity

David Gross17 Dec 2020 15:46 UTC
9 points
1 comment7 min readLW link

Notes on Shame

David Gross2 Nov 2021 4:33 UTC
19 points
6 comments17 min readLW link

Disarm­ing status

sano1 Jul 2022 20:00 UTC
−4 points
1 comment6 min readLW link

Most Ivy-smart stu­dents aren’t at Ivy-tier schools

Aaron Bergman7 Aug 2022 3:18 UTC
85 points
7 comments8 min readLW link
(www.aaronbergman.net)

Sig­nal­ing Guilt

Krieger8 Oct 2022 20:40 UTC
17 points
5 comments1 min readLW link

Bounded dis­trust or Bounded trust?

M. Y. Zuo15 Oct 2022 16:41 UTC
2 points
7 comments3 min readLW link