Is it really that bad to gossip?

Gossip isn't all bad. Turns out it played an important role in our social evolution. We talk about why we gossip and beneficial and harmful aspects of this social skill.

Listen 50:40

Why do so many of us like to gossip? Are we just heartless, taking pleasure in other peoples’ misery by spreading malicious secrets or unsubstantiated rumors? Or is it more complicated than that?

This episode, we explore the roots and reasons for gossip. One popular theory argues it’s part of our social evolution, helping our ancestors survive by sharing vital information about others and by creating connections between members of the group.

But, there are downsides to gossip, especially when it’s done to gain status, get revenge or when it’s a lie. Our guests are linguist Deborah Tannen and social psychologist Frank McAndrew.

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal