Pass it on: Gossip's not a bad thing

Aug. 23, 2005 at 10:54 AM

MADISON, Wis., Aug. 23 (UPI) -- U.S. researchers are refuting the notion that women gossip more than men, and claim it is as important to people as when monkeys groom one another.

An 18-month study by Kevin Kniffin of the University of Wisconsin, and fellow anthropologist David Wilson of the State University of New York found men gossiped for just as long and on the same subjects as women, but were more egocentric, talking for two-thirds of the time about themselves.

To be published in the journal Human Nature next month, the research looked at the social interactions of a university rowing club of around 50 men and women.

The researchers noted gossip increased when a team member turned up late. Some members would joke about the sex life of the latecomer or make cruel jokes about his character.

Wilson told the Daily Mail the act of coming together in a small group to share information is a deep-seated instinct comparable with "social grooming" among monkeys, in which primates pick fleas from each other as part of group bonding.

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