Photo of Károly Takács

Károly Takács


My research interest are the theoretical, experimental and empirical analysis of the dynamics of social networks in relation to problems of cooperation and conflict. I am the running an ERC Consolidator Grant about the role of gossip and reputations.

Short presentation

I received my Ph.D. from the University of Groningen / ICS in 2002. I was an Assistant and later an Associate Professor at the Corvinus University of Budapest, Institute of Sociology and Social Policy till 2019. I spent time at the Collegium Budapest and at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Studies. I was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Groningen / ICS and a Marie Curie Fellow at the University of Brescia, GECS Research Group on Experimental and Computational Sociology.

I founded and led the Research Center for Educational and Network Studies (RECENS) at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. I received the “Lendület” grant of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in 2012 on the dynamics of negative ties.

My main publications appeared in Advances in Complex Systems, Frontiers in Sociology, Journal of Applied Mathematics, JASSS, Journal of Conflict Resolution, Journal of Early Adolescence, Journal of Research on Adolescence, Journal of Theoretical Biology, Organization Science, Physica A, PLOS One, Research Policy, Scientific Reports, Scientometrics, Social Networks, and Social Psychology Quarterly.


EVILTONGUE: No Sword Bites So Fiercly as an Evil Tongue? Gossip Wrecks Reputation, but Enhances Cooperation

Social norms in general and norms of cooperation in particular, are the cement of social order in all human societies. The maintenance and enforcement of social norms and of cooperation, however, is not easy as there are tempting individual incentives for norm violations and free riding on the effort of others. In order to manage norms and cooperation, humans have developed institutional as well as informal solutions.

Reputation mechanisms and informal communication about others behind their back (gossip) are certainly among the most important informal management tools. This is puzzling, because according to common wisdom, gossip channels mainly negative and often fictitious information. If it is the case: how can gossip legitimize social order and promote cooperation?

We tackle this puzzle in this project exploiting a wide set of instruments in various environments. We use analytical modeling and agent-based simulation to derive hypotheses and test the consistency of the connection between micro mechanisms and group level outcomes. We test simple hypotheses in small group experiments. We use cutting-edge methodological tools to appropriately analyze the triadic nature of gossip embedded in network flows of information. We utilize dynamic network datasets from primary and secondary school classes, and we gather qualitative and quantitative information from organizations to test conditional hypotheses about the role that gossip plays in reputation and cooperation in different developmental and social contexts of life.

In addition, we apply new communication technologies to explore the hidden world of gossip and the dynamics of reputation in university dormitories. We build and explore a large corpus of spontaneous informal speech for its content in relation to gossip, reputational structure, norms, and cooperation. With the insights gained, we overcome common stereotypes about gossip and highlight how gossip is related to credible reputational signals, cooperation, and social order.

Expected results will help us to outline the conditions that can promote cooperation, and they will help to construct successful prevention strategies for social exclusion and for other potentially harmful consequences of the evil tongue.

Men sitting in front of wall talking.


According to common wisdom, gossip channels mainly negative and often fictitious information. If it is the case: how can dishonest gossip and the resulting biased reputations legitimize social order and promote cooperation?

Academic works

Recent academic works

  • Righi, S. and Takács, K. 2017. The Miracle of Peer Review and Development in Science: An Agent-Based Model. Scientometrics. DOI: 10.1007/s11192-017-2244-y.
  • Takács, K., Flache, A., and Mäs, M. 2016. Discrepancy and Disliking Do Not Induce Negative Opinion Shifts. PLOS One, 11(6): e0157948. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0157948
  • Pál, J., Stadtfeld, C., Grow, A., and Takács, K. 2016. Status Perceptions Matter: Understanding Disliking among Adolescents. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 26(4), 805-818. DOI: 10.1111/jora.12231

Often cited academic works

• Mäs, M., Flache, A., Takács, K., and Jehn, K. A. 2013. In the Short Term We Divide, in the Long Term We Unite: Demographic Crisscrossing and the Effects of Faultlines on Subgroup Polarization. Organization Science, 24: 716-736.

• Squazzoni, F., Bravo, G., and Takács, K. 2013. Does Incentive Provision Increase the Quality of Peer Review? An Experimental Study. Research Policy, 42(1): 287-294.

• Takács K.; Janky B., and Flache, A. 2008. Collective Action and Network Change. Social Networks, 30(3): 177-189.

Recently published book contributions

• Kisfalusi, D.; Takács, K., and Pál, J. 2019. Gossip and Reputation in Adolescent Networks. In: Giardini, F. and Wittek, R.P.M. (eds.): Oxford Handbook on Gossip and Reputation, Oxford University Press, 359-379.

• Righi, S. and Takács, K. 2017. Parallel versus Sequential Update and the Evolution of Cooperation with the Assistance of Emotional Strategies. In: Cordier, S., Ertur, C., Debarsy, N., Lucas, D., Nemo, F., Poisson, G., and Vrain, C. (eds.): Understanding Interactions in Complex Systems: Toward a Science of Interaction, Cambridge Scholars Publishing. 65-86.

• Takács, K., Squazzoni, F., Bravo, G., and Castellani, M. 2014. Employer Networks, Priming, and Discrimination in Hiring: An Experiment. In: Manzo, G. (ed.): Analytical Sociology: Norms, Actions, and Networks. Wiley & Son, 373-396.