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date: 21 June 2021

Abstract and Keywords

According to some feminist critiques, gossip is merely a form of women’s talk and thus an activity that men do not participate in. Yet gossip may be an ideal strategy for both men and women to engage in when involved in mate competition, allowing the individual to covertly damage a competitor’s reputation while simultaneously preserving his or her own. This chapter investigates the role of gossip in mate competition, considering the influence of variables including sex and attraction context on both the usage and success of a gossip-based competition strategy. Evidence shows that, although sex differences do exist in reputation-based gossip, both men and women are willing to use gossip strategically in order to gain a mating advantage. Overall, it appears that gossip is an effective, low-risk, and non-sex-specific intrasexual competition strategy for individuals to employ in both traditional and poaching attraction contexts.

Keywords: gossip, relationships, mate poaching, sex differences, evolutionary psychology

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