Study finds that women don’t spread catty gossip any more than men do

For the research, the researchers used data from 467 people who wore a portable listening device that samples what people said all day.

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A new study from the University of California Riverside debunked the stereotype that women gossip negatively more than men. However, it did discover that everyone gossips nearly an hour a day – about 52 minutes on average.

Gossip was defined by the researchers as talking about someone who isn’t there and isn’t inherently negative.


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The study was the first to exhaustively examine conversational buzz. “There is a surprising dearth of information about who gossips and how, given public interest and opinion on the subject,” said Megan Robbins, an assistant psychology professor who led the study, in a release.

For the research, the researchers used data from 467 people – 269 women, 198 men – who wore a portable listening device that samples what people said throughout the day. About 10% of participants’ conversations were recorded, and then listened to and analyzed by research assistants.

In all, there were 4,003 instances of gossip. The researchers organized the results:

  • About 75% of the gossip was neutral.
  • While women do gossip more than men, they do it primarily in a neutral way that’s meant to shares information.
  • The gossip recorded was “overwhelmingly” about a real-life acquaintance, not a celebrity.
  • Younger people were more likely to gossip negatively than older adults.
  • Another stereotype busted: poor people don’t gossip more than wealthy people.

The next time you get a burning in your ear, you can rest easier. People may be talking about you – but probably not in a bad way.


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Sheila McClear|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at smcclear@theladders.com.