Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

Living Edition
| Editors: Todd K. Shackelford, Viviana A. Weekes-Shackelford

Sex Differences, Initiating Gossip

  • Adam C. DavisEmail author
  • Steven Arnocky
  • Tracy Vaillancourt
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_190-1



Adolescent girls’ and women’s penchant for indirect aggression has led to the prediction that gossip may be their preferred tactic of choice when competing against intrasexual rivals. Consequently, girls and women are predicted to initiate and engage in gossip more frequently than boys and men.


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 and Arluke 1985). It is a construct that overlaps conceptually with rumor, but is distinct in that it tends to be truthful and about people as opposed to events (Foster 2004). The historic and cross-cultural ubiquity of gossip, as well as the consensus among researchers that it plays a vital role in human social relationships, has led to the proposal that it may be an evolved...

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Adam C. Davis
    • 1
    Email author
  • Steven Arnocky
    • 2
  • Tracy Vaillancourt
    • 1
  1. 1.Counselling Psychology, Faculty of EducationUniversity of OttawaOttawaCanada
  2. 2.Department of Psychology, Faculty of Arts and SciencesNipissing UniversityNorth BayCanada

Section editors and affiliations

  • Tara DeLecce
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyOakland UniversityRochesterUSA