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Canadian Research: Gossip is a Vital, Social Skill | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A couple talks at a coffee shop in central Seoul./ Han Jae-Ho / Reuters

London, Asharq Al-Awsat — Canadian researchers suggests that gossiping, one of the detestable human traits in most societies, is one of the vital characteristics to develop relationships among people.

Researchers from the University of Ottawa said men talk about cues to resource holding like wealth, and the athleticism of their competitors, while women use gossip as tactics to badmouth a potential rival who is competing for a man’s attention. Women also gossip more about other women’s looks.

This new psychological study finds that gossip is a highly evolved social skill and an intersexual competition tactic that relates to women’s and men’s evolved preferences.

According to Adam Davis from the University of Ottawa in Canada, the lead author of the study, gossiping is essential for interpersonal relationships, and not a flaw of character.

The study published in the Evolutionary Psychological Science provides the first verifiable evidence for a positive link between intersexual competitiveness, the amount of gossip that people take part in, and whether they are OK with such talk or not.

Scholars agree that gossip has evolved as an efficient way to learn more about others and to enforce group norms.

It is also a method by which people can learn more about their rivals, and can call into question their reputation, especially when they are vying for the same romantically or sexually desirable mates.

Researchers examined 290 heterosexual Canadian students between the ages of 17 and 30 years old who completed three questionnaires. One measured how competitive the participants are towards members of the same sex as their own, especially in terms of access to the attention of potential mates.

The other questionnaires measured the tendency and likelihood of the participants to gossip about others, the perceived social value of gossip, and whether it is okay to talk about others behind their backs.

It was found that people who were competitive towards members of their own sex had a greater tendency to gossip.

They were also more comfortable with the practice than others. Women had a greater tendency to gossip than men, and they also enjoyed it more, and saw more value in participating in such conversations.

Men were more likely to gossip about the achievements of others. Such talk among women often targeted the physical appearance of another and was used to share social information.