To gossip might not be considered 'moral,' but it's certainly human - and a new study suggests it's more common and less nasty than you might think.
In fact, sociologists see gossip as part of the glue of societies, helping spread information through groups, create a united front and protect people from potential bad actors.
For the first time, however, researchers from the University of California, Riverside (UC Riverside), have tracked just how much we gossip and who is saying what.
Their fitting study design let the researchers eavesdrop on study participants' conversations - for science - and revealed that we spend nearly an hour of each day on average gossiping, and no one is above it.
The titular Mean Girls from the film have 'big hair' because it's 'full of secrets,' as one character says. But so do the rest of us, according to new research that debunks the myth that women spend more time on negative gossip than men do
A stereotype of a 'gossip' would perhaps look something like the titular characters from Mean Girls, whose 'hair is so big [because] it's full of secrets,' as another character quips.
The film's heroine, Cady Heron, played by Lindsay Lohan, is set up as their opposite: the down-to-earth new girl who's just landed from Africa with bright eyes and a do-gooder spirit.
But she's quickly caught up in the gossip, rumor mill and queen bee contest. It doesn't take long before she's not so different from the queen bee, Regina; in fact, she effectively becomes her.
The film end's with a happy resolution and message about equality, but along the way there's another: none of us is as above gossip as we think.
Researchers at UC Riverside upended some traditional