HashOut: 2007/04/20
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All the juice on the gossip grapevine

We're Not Gossiping, We Are NetworkingDo you remember all the more mundane details about your friends' lives, or are you more likely to remember juicy gossip? UK-based researchers Alex Mesoudi and Andrew Whiten of the University of St Andrews and Robin Dunbar of the University of Liverpool used a "Chinese whispers" style of experiment to find out, and it seems gossip wins hands down.

The researchers gave ten people four different passages to read, then asked them to write down what they could remember. Then their writings were passed to another five rounds of volunteers. Not surprisingly, the researchers found that gossip-like information involving deception and infidelity was remembered and transmitted in far greater quantity and with greater accuracy. In a separate study, a British market research company called 72 Point surveyed 2000 volunteers and found 97% of women and 93% of men admitted they like spreading tittle-tattle. Their favorite topic? Information about friends and family, closely followed by details of office affairs and celebrities' lives.
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