Gossip

Today’s Zits:

The stereotype is that women (especially girls) gossip about other people and their lives, but men (and boys) talk about weightier and more objective things, like politics and sports. Studies of talk among men in groups, as in college fraternities, don’t fully support the stereotype (google {gossip gender differences}: at least in some studies, women in groups do spend more time gossiping than men in groups, but men in groups gossip quite a lot.

Wikipedia on gossip:

Gossip is idle talk or rumor about the personal or private affairs of others. It is one of the oldest and most common means of sharing facts, views and slander. This term is used pejoratively by its reputation for the introduction of errors and variations into the information transmitted, and it also describes idle chat, a rumor of personal, or trivial nature.

Gossip has been researched in terms of its evolutionary psychology origins. This has found gossip to be an important means by which people can monitor cooperative reputations and so maintain widespread indirect reciprocity. Indirect reciprocity is defined here as “I help you and somebody else helps me.” Gossip has also been identified by Robin Dunbar, an evolutionary biologist, as aiding social bonding in large groups. With the advent of the internet gossip is now widespread on an instant basis, from one place in the world to another what used to take a long time to filter through is now instant.

The term is sometimes used to specifically refer to the spreading of dirt and misinformation, as (for example) through excited discussion of scandals. Some newspapers carry “gossip columns” which detail the social and personal lives of celebrities or of élite members of certain communities.

 

 

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