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Gender Differences in Gossip and Friendship

Abstract

Gossip has been related to friendship as it can increase the bond between people and sense of belonging to a group. However, the role of gender in the relationship between gossip and friendship has not been examined in the literature. So, the present study examined gender differences in the relationship between friendship quality and gossip tendency with a sample of 167 female and 69 male Western Canadian undergraduate University students using the Friendship questionnaire and the Tendency to Gossip questionnaire. Given gender differences in friendship, with males being more agentic and females more communal, the relationship between gossip and friendship was predicted to be stronger in the males compared to the females. Friendship quality was positively correlated with gossip tendency in the males, but this effect was not present with the females. The information gossip scale was strongly associated with male friendship quality. This finding may be related to the greater emphasis on status with males, and that possession of knowledge and control of information is a method of attaining status. Physical appearance gossip was found to be more prevalent in females, but not related to friendship quality. This type of gossip may be a more of a competitive threat to the relationship in females. Achievement related gossip was also related to male friendship quality, which reflects the greater emphasis on individuation in male friendships.

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Correspondence to David C. Watson.

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Watson, D.C. Gender Differences in Gossip and Friendship. Sex Roles 67, 494–502 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-012-0160-4

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-012-0160-4

Keywords

  • Gossip
  • Friendship
  • Gender differences
  • Social networks