Like Belgian Chocolate for the Universal Mind. Interpersonal and Media Gossip from an Evolutionary Perspective. (Charlotte De Backer)


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Feelings of relief, I have finally reached the end. But still, despite the struggles I have faced and the fact that the negativity bias predicts that we rather remember the negative than the positive, I already feel as if I here end one of the most thrilling and joyful experiences of my life. I know I will look back to this period with great pleasure, and remember mostly positive facts.


Of course, this is due to the fact that I could rely on the best support any researcher could hope for. In general, I want to thank everyone whose path has crossed mine in the past four years. Your encounter has influenced my thinking and inspired me to write this dissertation.


Still, some people I have to thank in particular. I first of all want to thank my advisors Patrick Vyncke and Johan Braeckman. I want to acknowledge Patrick Vyncke for his trust, his patience and his support. Whenever I stubbornly decided to do things my way, I could still lean on his support. The research freedom he offered me has given me the opportunity to get the most out of these past four years. I also want to thank Johan Braeckman who guided me through this whole process with an infinite enthusiasm and drive. His positivism made me feel the biggest winner of this arms race. The past four years would not have been so obvious without his support, and the support of all evolutionary minded people with whom we gathered in the basements of Ghent University. Thanks An, Farah, Gino, Griet, Karolien, Koen, Thomas &Tom.


I want to thank Mark Nelissen from The University of Antwerp for his support in developing my ideas, and especially for his help with my empirical work. For the empirical support I also thank Lieven, Isabelle and Gino Verleye.


Next, I want to write a special note of thanks to Leda Cosmides and John Tooby for inviting me to join their research group at the Center for Evolutionary Psychology during the fall quarter of 2003, and for how greatly they adapted my mind. This dissertation would not have been the same without their advice and support. Along with them, I also want to thank Michael Gurven and Steven Gaulin and all members of the CEP.


I further thank the Fund for Scientific Research Flanders and the Department of Communication Studies at Ghent University for their financial support and freedom of research they offered me during these four years. In also thank Monique and Sandy for their help and support. And of course I thank those with whom I have shared offices: Karolien, Mieke, Mariska & Sophie.


I thank An, Barbara, Christine, Ilse, Karolien, Kevin, Maarten & Tomas for carefully reading and correcting my texts. In addition I here also thank Stijn for the lay-out of this dissertation.


But of course these past four years were mostly enjoyable because of the social support I got from colleagues and friends. Some colleagues even moved from being colleagues to friends. In particular I think of those with whom I spent my leisure time in Ghent, Stockholm or France: Annemie, Ilse, Liesbet(h), Karolien, Kevin, Tomas & Yen. Thanks for all the wonderful moments I have shared with you, and thanks those for expanding my Swedish vocabulary.


The same is true for some colleagues I met when crossing borders. I here in particular want to thank Lili for cheering up my time in Santa Barbara. And of course, my partner in crime of investigating gossip: Nickie Hess.


Surely, I also want to thank my friends who were always willing to engage in Charlie’s Juicy Gossip moments! And, of course, on whom I could always rely to share my happy moods, my doubts, my insecurities and my worries I faced along this road: Anneke, Alex, Barbara, Benoit, Edith, Eline, Els, Eva, Frederick, Hilde, Karel, Karen, Marian, Nico, Pascale, Peggy, Stefaan, Valerie, Winne and many others who slip my mind at this time. A very special word of thanks here goes to Maarten: thanks to you the last months rather felt like a beginning than an end.


And last, I want to thank those with whom it all began: my parents for their infinite believe and support, for never giving up on me, for the best education they gave me, and most of all for how they shaped my mind. Along with them I also want to especially thank my brother Bernard, my sister Julie, as well as Jan, Jules, Louise, and Marraine.


Gent, May 2005

Charlotte De Backer


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