Evolutionary Psychological Science

, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp 141–153 | Cite as

Gossip as an Intrasexual Competition Strategy: Sex Differences in Gossip Frequency, Content, and Attitudes

  • Adam C. DavisEmail author
  • Caroline Dufort
  • Jessica Desrochers
  • Tracy Vaillancourt
  • Steven Arnocky
Research Article


From an evolutionary perspective, gossip has been considered a putative intrasexual competition strategy that is used to vie for mates and resources linked to reproductive success. To date, no study has directly examined the relations between intrasexual competitiveness, reported tendency to gossip, and attitudes toward gossiping. Limited empirical work has also focused on whether gossip frequency, gossip content, and gossip attitudes correspond to women’s and men’s divergent intrasexual competition strategies and evolved mating preferences. In a sample of 290 heterosexual young adults, we found that intrasexual competition positively predicted reported gossip frequency and favorable attitudes toward gossiping. Additionally, women reported a greater tendency to gossip in comparison to men, particularly about physical appearance and social information, whereas men reported gossiping more about achievement. Women also reported greater enjoyment of, and perceived more value in, gossiping than men. Collectively, these findings provide empirical support for the hypothesis that gossip is an intrasexual competition tactic that, by and large, corresponds to women’s and men’s evolved mate preferences and differential mate competition strategies.


Gossip Intrasexual competition Mate preferences Sex differences 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Adam C. Davis
    • 1
    Email author
  • Caroline Dufort
    • 2
  • Jessica Desrochers
    • 2
  • Tracy Vaillancourt
    • 1
  • Steven Arnocky
    • 2
  1. 1.Faculty of EducationUniversity of OttawaOttawaCanada
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyNipissing UniversityNorth BayCanada

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