Gossip in Evolutionary Perspective

  title={Gossip in Evolutionary Perspective},
  author={Robin I. M. Dunbar},
  journal={Review of General Psychology},
  pages={100 - 110}
Conversation is a uniquely human phenomenon. Analyses of freely forming conversations indicate that approximately two thirds of conversation time is devoted to social topics, most of which can be given the generic label gossip. This article first explores the origins of gossip as a mechanism for bonding social groups, tracing these origins back to social grooming among primates. It then asks why social gossip in this sense should form so important a component of human interaction and presents… 
A Social Comparison Account of Gossip
The central thesis of this article is that all gossip involves social comparison. Research on social comparison is applied toward understanding motivations for gossip. In addition, the authors
S Sex Differences , Initiating Gossip
Gossip has been defined as a form of evaluative communication that permits individuals to exchange positive and negative information about absent third party others (Leaper and Holliday 1995; Levin
Silence Is Golden. Six Reasons Inhibiting the Spread of Third-Party Gossip
It is argued that understanding the reasons why people do not gossip may provide useful insights into individual motives, group dynamics, and collective behaviors, and that depending on different configurations of frames and relations between actors the perceived costs of sending gossip may be far higher than much of the previous literature suggests.
Beyond Content of Conversation
The present review concentrates on the influence of the act of conversing on the emergence of a sense of solidarity, more or less independently of the content.
Social Curiosity and Its Functions
The present study examined two fundamental social behaviours, social curiosity and gossip, and their interrelations in an English (n = 218) and a German sample (n = 152). Analyses showed that both
Social Curiosity and Gossip: Related but Different Drives of Social Functioning
Examination of two fundamental social behaviors, social curiosity and gossip, and their interrelations in an English and a German sample showed that both samples believed that they are less gossipy but more curious than their peers.
Research on Gossip: Taxonomy, Methods, and Future Directions
A half century of gossip research from multiple disciplines is reviewed. Discussed are definitions of the construct; social, evolutionary, and personal functions of the practice; and data collection
An epistemological analysis of gossip and gossip-based knowledge
The contention is that the ever-present moral/evaluative dimension in gossip—be it tacit or explicit, concerning the objects or the partners of gossip—is best analyzed through the epistemological framework of abduction.
Evil Acts and Malicious Gossip
  • Eliot R. Smith
  • Psychology
    Personality and social psychology review : an official journal of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Inc
  • 2014
Examining person perception as a socially distributed process opens up a variety of novel issues, which have been addressed in scattered literatures mostly outside of social psychology using a series of multiagent models.


Human conversational behavior
Observational studies of human conversations in relaxed social settings suggest that these consist predominantly of exchanges of social information (mostly concerning personal relationships and
Coevolution of neocortical size, group size and language in humans
It is suggested that the evolution of large groups in the human lineage depended on developing a more efficient method for time-sharing the processes of social bonding and that language uniquely fulfills this requirement.
On the Function of Allogrooming in Old-World Monkeys
This paper briefly considers various current hypotheses concerning the survival function of Old-World monkeys and an alternative hypothesis which combines several elements included in the others and which is in good agreement with the literature data is later presented.
Size and structure of freely forming conversational groups
There appear to be no differences between men and women in this respect, other than those introduced by women’s lighter voices in spontaneous conversation.
How monkeys see the world
The reader is taken through a well-written and compact account of Quine's dilemma, Wiggenstein's paradox, Premack's theory of mind, and the "grunts" of Jimmy Conners in the Wimbledon tennis matches.
Intentional systems in cognitive ethology: The “Panglossian paradigm” defended
  • D. Dennett
  • Psychology
    Behavioral and Brain Sciences
  • 1983
Abstract Ethologists and others studying animal behavior in a “cognitive” spirit are in need of a descriptive language and method that are neither anachronistically bound by behaviorist scruples nor
The evolution of cooperation in mobile organisms
. Current game theory models of cooperation based on reciprocity do not take into account the active switching of partners made possible by mobility. Since such situations cannot be understood by
Neocortex size as a constraint on group size in primates