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Does Gossip Have An Evolutionary Purpose?

Social Hierarchies

Spreading rumors about a close friend doesn’t bring you closer but it leads you up the social ladder by taking somebody else down. Gossip can be greatly detrimental, but it also allows nonphysical competition and displays of power.

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Does Gossip Have An Evolutionary Purpose?

Does Gossip Have An Evolutionary Purpose?

https://www.bustle.com/articles/86246-why-do-we-gossip-5-theories-about-why-we-cant-stop-talking-behind-each-others-backs

bustle.com

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Key Ideas

Policing Behavior

Gossiping is a good way of identifying friends and foes. We are either judge, jury or executioner when we gossip — and we use the information we cull to keep immoral influences at arm's length.

Research indicates that people who witnessed immoral behavior feel better after gossiping about it to people who might have been affected. They are helping to spread the news, and therefore raise the possibility that the person in question is punished.

Keeping Us Safe

We ensure our well-being by exchanging information about the world around us (and the potential dangers it contains) with as many people as possible.

Building Social Bonds

Gossip is a key social skill that helps ensure our healthy integration into human society. 

Gossiping with somebody is a way of bringing people closer within your social group, checking that they share your views, and bonding over shared positions and judgements. The people you gossip most with, therefore, are the ones with whom you're the closest.

Our Urge To Tell Stories

Gossip on celebrities is largely constructed of narratives, with arcs and patterns — the swift rise, the first fall, the redemption. According to this theory, we love gossip because it ties into our human innate fascination with storytelling.

Stories often have a moral component that provides us with patterns of behavior, develop and expand our attention, bond an audience, and let us play. Storytelling is also a good way to attract mates.

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Gossiping

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Gossip as a Tool

Gossiping is a fundamental human instinct because our lives are deeply rooted in groups and we depend on the people in our groups to survive.

We need to have as much information as possible about the people around us in order to accurately determine expectations, trustworthiness, viewpoints, and so on.

The Benefits Of Gossip

Gossip doesn’t only teach us about the person who’s the subject of the conversation, but also about the gossiper. When you gossip you tell others things about your attitudes, beliefs, and ways of dealing with people by seeing who and what you gossip about.

When you do join in, gossip can also strengthen your social bonds. It improves a group's cooperation and makes members less selfish, as well as a way of identifying and ostracizing untrustworthy individuals until they learn the lesson.

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The Negatives Of Gossiping

If you gossip negative things, like insulting someone or talking down their achievements, it may put both you and the person you are talking to at risk of losing the group’s trust and eac...

It's Not All Bad

Spontaneous trait transference works with positive talk. If you're discussing someone and you describe them as kind and generous, people are more likely to see you that way too.

Small talk and gossip help us build and analyze the relationships we have with other people, as well as work out each other's social standings and traits.

We’re Wired To Gossip

People's names trigger the brain in a unique way so you can recall information about them. Gossip works as training for the information gathering capacities of the brain.

Research also found that people were much better at processing information about people they had just met if they had large social groups. By talking with and about people more often, they were using those parts of their brains regularly.

We’re Hardwired To Gossip

Our prehistoric ancestors lived in small intimate groups. To survive they needed to cooperate with in-group members while also competing for mates and limited resources.

It was fundame...

Social Isolation

Sharing secrets is one way people bond, so avoiding gossip may lead to social isolation. Someone skillful at gossip can be socially informed and have a good rapport with others. On the other hand, someone who doesn’t gossip may become an outsider, neither trusted nor accepted by the group. 

Gossip also helps to integrate newcomers into groups by exposing group norms and values.

Fear Of Whispers Keeps Us In Check

The awareness that others are likely talking about us can keep us in line. Among a group of friends or coworkers, the threat of becoming the target of gossip can deter “free-riders” and cheaters.

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