Talking about people behind their backs might seem an underhand activity that should be frowned on by society, but it is what sets us our species apart, academics have claimed.
Gossip is what makes people human, according to Robin Dunbar, professor of evolutionary psychology at Oxford University, because it allows us to pass on vital information about who to trust, and helps us bond with family and friends.
In fact, far from feeling guilty about gossiping about others, we should accept it as a vital part of human life that might help us to live longer.
“The most important thing that will prevent you dying is the size of the social network,” Prof Dunbar told the Cheltenham Science Festival. “That has a bigger effect than anything, except giving up cigarettes.
“Your social network has a huge effect on happiness and well-being.” (©Daily Telegraph, London)