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How “The Gossip” Became a Woman and How “Gossip” Became Her Weapon of Choice

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Francis T. McAndrew

Edited by Maryanne L. Fisher

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE (www.oxfordhandbooks.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2015. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy).

date: 28 January 2017

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Abstract

Gossip is the weapon of choice in the indirect relationship aggression that occurs among women. However, gossip can also be a positive force in the life of groups. In this chapter, I maintain that gossip is an evolutionary adaptation that enabled our prehistoric ancestors to be socially successful and explore the complicated roles gossip plays in human social life. I argue that an interest in the affairs of same-sex others is especially strong among females and that this is not always benign. I review the evidence that women are more likely than men to use gossip in an aggressive, competitive manner and maintain that understanding the dynamics of competitive gossip may also give us insight into related social phenomena such as how people use social media such as Facebook and why men and women often have such different tastes in movies and television.

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