Nollywood Q&A | 7 June 2012 08:27 CET

Gossip brings men together, tears women apart — Study

By Jayne Augoye
Jayne Augoye writes on a new study that disproves the myth that women gossip more than men

Women are often stereotyped as gossips and have long been believed to talk more than men. But a new study carried out by psychology lecturers at the Western Canadian Undergraduate University, Canada, has added a new twist to the issue.

The scientists claim that although men and women love to gossip, chatter tends to make males closer, whereas it can tear female friends apart.

According to them, men chat about shared activities such as sports, which automatically brings them closer while women chat about physical appearance – which can endanger friendships

There is alot of differences in the way men and women gossip – and it is not as simple as talking about football versus talking about shopping.

The study also indicates that the fact that men might be talking about football and even boast about achievements such as pay rises, seems to bond them.

“The male friendship is more characterised by engaging in group activities. So, gossip can serve to enhance the bond between individuals within the group. But because female friendships 'run deeper', gossip can have the opposite effect. Female friendships are more characterised by communion or intimacy. Gossip can be more of a threat to the relationship than it does in male friendships. Both sexes, predictably, gossip in rather different ways,” the researchers say.

Among the 167 female and 60 male students sampled in the research, it was discovered that gossiping about physical appearance was found to be more prevalent in females. This type of gossip was identified as a competitive threat to the relationship in females.

This is not the first time the question as to who gossips more between both sexes is being raised.

A 2011 study published in the London Daily Mail website showed that guys who gossip outnumber girls at a ratio of two to one while 80 per cent of conversations are spent on discussing other people and their habits.

The study of 300 people found that while people love exchanging juicy titbits of personal information, only about five per cent of gossip is malicious.

In the study, relationship expert Andrea Syrtash was quoted as saying that while gossip can help people bond with others, it can also be hurtful.

She said, “People can use gossip to drag someone under the bus, or it can help establish trust in someone. But it's worth being careful. If someone is always giving you the dirt on other people, then you're part of the mix when she talks to someone else. Be careful how much information you share.”

Yet another study recently conducted by global research company, Onepoll, revealed that men spend an average of 76 minutes a day chatting and gossiping with their friends or work colleagues, compared to just 52 minutes for women.

Favourite gossip topics the study noted include the antics of drunken friends, old school friends, and the most attractive girl at work.

Women were found to be more likely to complain about other women, other people's sex lives or their friend's weight gain.

The poll also found that office is the preferred place for men to exchange gossip, whereas women prefer to confide in their friends from the comfort of their own homes.

A third of male respondents said they were happiest when chatting with work colleagues, and 58 per cent admit that being a gossip makes them feel “part of the gang”.

And ironically, for 31 per cent of men, having a gossip with their partner is actually better than sexual relations.

Other topics good for male chat include the local news agenda, rumours about possible relationships in the office or the boss, promotions, sex and salaries.

A spokesman for Onepoll said, “It is commonly believed that women are the ones who love to spread rumours, and gossip about their friends behind their backs. But this poll proves that men aren't as bad as women, they're worse! Men just love a bit of scandal, and will do anything they can to be centre of attention with their colleagues and peers. At the end of the day, hot gossip spices up what would otherwise be another boring day at the office.”

The researchers add that women also love to talk about news. But rather than focusing on politics or government issues, news about soap operas and celebrities are more likely to cause a debate. And any type of relationship is up for discussion – whether it is their own, their friends, their friends' friends or their bond with their mother-in-law.

More than half of women openly admit to regularly discussing the ins and outs of their private lives with their friends. But whereas men's discussions are more influenced by what is happening at work, women are more inclined to take note of celebrity lifestyles, soap gossip and other people.

Onepoll also noted, “Although they discuss very different things during their gossiping sessions, men and women agree on one thing – talking with mates, work colleagues or partners makes them feel like they belong.”

It equally averred that after examining N9 Twitter accounts — excluding celebrities, a research company, HubSpot realised that women are “more social” on Twitter than men.

HubSpot found that although men and women have an equitable number of followers, women tend to tweet and follow more – 12 per cent and two per cent more than men, respectively

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