738 The science of gossip (and why everyone does it)

Speech Materals

People feed off gossip. It’s one reason why, in the 1960s, the National Enquirer swapped the gory, gruesome headlines they were known for with celebrity scoops and scandal. The switch gave the tabloid access to supermarket checkout lines and the “enquiring minds” in them.

But it’s not just tabloid readers who love to dish. Social scientists have found that everyone is hardwired to pay attention to gossip, and to participate in it. In fact, it’s an evolutionary adaptation — it’s become human nature to spill the tea.

“We’re the descendants of people who were good at this,” said Frank McAndrew, a psychology professor at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois. “In prehistoric times, people who were fascinated by the lives of other people were more successful.”

McAndrew, an expert on human social behavior and gossip, explains that to thrive in the time of cavemen, we had to know what was happening with the people around us.

I – Word Understanding
Gory – violent
Gruesome – extremely unpleasant
Dish – to gossip
Hardwired – genetically /naturally
Spill the tea – to gossip

II – Have Your Say
1. Most researchers define gossip as talking about someone who is not present, the majority is harmless. It is stereotyped as feminine, low-class and uneducated past time but according to data, everybody gossips and it’s not all bad. What is your take on gossip?
2. In this modern time of the internet / SNS, fast life and people gathering in big cities, how has gossiping changed?
3. Celebrities get the major attention thus gossip about them is huge. What are the recent or major celebrity gossip in your country? Is gossip helpful in the entertainment industry?

738 The science of gossip (and why everyone does it)

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