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date: 21 July 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Gossip is a more complicated and socially important phenomenon than most people think, and campaigns to stamp out gossip in workplaces and other social settings overlook the fact that gossip is part of human nature and an essential part of what makes social groups function as well as they do. This chapter takes the position that gossip is an evolutionary adaptation and that it is the primary tool for monitoring and managing the reputation of individuals in society. An interest in the affairs of other people is a necessary component of being a socially competent person, and the chapter explores the multi-dimensional nature of gossip-related social skills. It pays special attention to “gossip as a social skill,” rather than as a character flaw, and presents insights into related phenomena such as how people use social media such as Facebook.

Keywords: gossip, reputation, sex differences, social skills, female competition, evolutionary psychology

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