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

Synonyms

Definition

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.

Introduction

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...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References

  1. Arnocky, S. (2016). Intrasexual rivalry among women. In T. K. Shackelford & V. A. Weekes-Shackelford (Eds.), Encyclopedia of evolutionary psychological science (pp. 1–8). New York: Springer.  https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_1424-1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Arnocky, S., & Vaillancourt, T. (2012). A multi-informant longitudinal study on the relationship between aggression, peer victimization, and dating status in adolescence. Evolutionary Psychology, 10(2), 253–270.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Arnocky, S., & Vaillancourt, T. (2017). Sexual competition among women: A review of the theory and supporting evidence. In M. L. Fisher (Ed.), The Oxford handbook of women and competition (pp. 25–39). New York: Oxford University Press.  https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199376377.013.3 ISBN 978-1-63463-131-0.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Arnocky, S., Sunderani, S., Miller, J. L., & Vaillancourt, T. (2012). Jealousy mediates the relationship between attractiveness comparison and females’ indirect aggression. Personal Relationships, 19(2), 290–303.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-6811.2011.01362.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Barkow, J. H. (1992). Beneath new culture is old psychology: Gossip and social stratification. In J. H. Barkow, L. Cosmides, & J. Tooby (Eds.), The adapted mind: Evolutionary psychology and the generation of culture (pp. 627–637). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Benenson, J. F., Markovits, H., Hultgren, B., Nguyen, T., Bullock, G., & Wrangham, R. (2013). Social exclusion: More important to human females than males. PLoS One, 8(2).  https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0055851.
  7. Björkqvist, K. (1994). Sex differences in physical, verbal, and indirect aggression: A review of recent research. Sex Roles, 30(3), 177–188.  https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01420988.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Björkqvist, K., Lagerspetz, K. M., & Kaukiainen, A. (1992). Do girls manipulate and boys fight? Developmental trends in regard to direct and indirect aggression. Aggressive Behavior, 18(2), 117–127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Buss, D. M. (1989). Sex differences in human mate preferences: Evolutionary hypotheses tested in 37 cultures. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 12(1), 1–14.  https://doi.org/10.1017/S0140525X00023992.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Buss, D. M., & Dedden, L. A. (1990). Derogation of competitors. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 7(3), 395–422.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0265407590073006.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Campbell, A. (1999). Staying alive: Evolution, culture, and women’s intrasexual aggression. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 22(02), 203–214.  https://doi.org/10.1017/S0140525X99001818.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Campbell, A. (2004). Female competition: Causes, constraints, content, and contexts. Journal of Sex Research, 41(1), 16–26.  https://doi.org/10.1080/00224490409552210.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Davis, A. C., Dufort, C., Desrochers, J., Vaillancourt, T., & Arnocky, S. (2018). Gossip as an intrasexual competition strategy: Sex differences in gossip frequency, content, and attitudes. Evolutionary Psychological Science, 4(2), 1–13.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s40806-017-0121-9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. De Backer, C. J., Nelissen, M., & Fisher, M. L. (2007). Let’s talk about sex: A study on the recall of gossip about potential mates and sexual rivals. Sex Roles, 56(11–12), 781–791.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-007-9237-x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Dunbar, R. I. (2004). Gossip in evolutionary perspective. Review of General Psychology, 8(2), 100–110.  https://doi.org/10.1037/1089-2680.8.2.100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Eckert, P. (1990). Cooperative competition in adolescent “girl talk”. Discourse Processes, 13(1), 91–122.  https://doi.org/10.1080/01638539009544748.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Foster, E. K. (2004). Research on gossip: Taxonomy, methods, and future directions. Review of General Psychology, 8(2), 78–99.  https://doi.org/10.1037/1089-2680.8.2.78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Johnson, S., & Finlay, F. (1997). Do men gossip? An analysis of football talk on television. In S. Johnson & U. H. Meinhof (Eds.), Language and masculinity (pp. 130–143). Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  19. Leaper, C., & Holliday, H. (1995). Gossip in same-gender and cross-gender friends’ conversations. Personal Relationships, 2(3), 237–246.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-6811.1995.tb00089.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Levin, J., & Arluke, A. (1985). An exploratory analysis of sex differences in gossip. Sex Roles, 12(3), 281–286.  https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00287594.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Low, S., Frey, K. S., & Brockman, C. J. (2010). Gossip on the playground: Changes associated with universal intervention, retaliation beliefs, and supportive friends. School Psychology Review, 39(4), 536–551.Google Scholar
  22. Massar, K., Buunk, A. P., & Rempt, S. (2012). Age differences in women’s tendency to gossip are mediated by their mate value. Personality and Individual Differences, 52(1), 106–109.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2011.09.013.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. McAndrew, F. T. (2014). The “sword of a woman”: Gossip and female aggression. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 19, 196–199.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.avb.2014.04.006.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. McAndrew, F. T., & Milenkovic, M. A. (2002). Of tabloids and family secrets: The evolutionary psychology of gossip. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 32, 1064–1082.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1559-1816.2002.tb00256.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. McAndrew, F. T., Bell, E. K., & Garcia, C. M. (2007). Who do we tell and whom do we tell on? Gossip as a strategy for status enhancement. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 37(7), 1562–1577.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1559-1816.2007.00227.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. McDonald, K., Putallaz, M., Grimes, C., Kupersmidt, J., & Coie, J. (2007). Girl talk: Gossip, friendship, and sociometric status. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly: Journal of Developmental Psychology, 53(3), 381–411.  https://doi.org/10.1353/mpq.2007.0017.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Owens, L., Shute, R., & Slee, P. (2000). “Guess what I just heard!”: Indirect aggression among teenage girls in Australia. Aggressive Behavior, 26(1), 67–83.  https://doi.org/10.1002/(SICI)1098-2337(2000)26:1<67::AID-AB6>3.0.CO;2-C.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Vaillancourt, T. (2005). Indirect aggression among humans: Social construct or evolutionary adaptation. In R. E. Tremblay, W. W. Hartup, & J. Archer (Eds.), Developmental origins of aggression (pp. 158–177). New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  29. Vaillancourt, T. (2013). Do human females use indirect aggression as an intrasexual competition strategy? Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 368(1631).  https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2013.0080.
  30. Vaillancourt, T., & Hymel, S. (2006). Aggression and social status: The moderating roles of sex and peer-valued characteristics. Aggressive Behavior, 32(4), 396–408.  https://doi.org/10.1002/ab.20138.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Vaillancourt, T., & Sharma, A. (2011). Intolerance of sexy peers: Intrasexual competition among women. Aggressive Behavior, 37(6), 569–577.  https://doi.org/10.1002/ab.20413.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Vaillancourt, T., Miller, J. L., & Sharma, A. (2010). “Tripping the prom queen”: Female intrasexual competition and indirect aggression. In K. Österman (Ed.), Indirect and direct aggression (pp. 17–31). New York: Peter Lang.Google Scholar

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