(Telegraph) Gossiping is what makes us human, says Oxford professor
Gossiping about others is a vital part of life and could even keep us alive longer, according to evolutionary psychologist Professor Robin Dunbar
Gossip is what makes people human, according to Robin Dunbar, professor of evolutionary psychology at Oxford University, because it allows us to pass on vital information about who to trust, and helps us bond with family and friends.
In fact, far from feeling guilty about gossiping about others, we should accept it as a vital part of human life, which might actually help us to live longer.
“The most important thing that will prevent you dying is the size of the social network,” Prof Dunbar told the Cheltenham Science Festival.
“That has a bigger effect size than anything, except giving up cigarettes. Your social network had a huge effect on happiness and wellbeing.
“The problem we have is how to maintain our social networks. Language evolved to allow us to keep the oil of the social network flowing, keep us up to date, and tell stories which is really important for community cohesion.
“Gossiping is just chatting with people and keeping up to date with the social world in which you live. So gossip is what makes us human. The use of gossip in a negative sense is not seen until the 18th century. It used to be what you did with your friends.”