Review of the article: Gossip and gender differences - a content analysis approach
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Author: Eyal Eckhaus and Batia Ben-Hador, posted on 7/14/2018 , in category "Communication"
Views: this article has been read 3549 times
Abstract: Do men or women gossip more and what are the reasons for the different perceptions about gossip and gender?

Review of the article: Gossip and gender differences: a content analysis approach [1]

When I asked men who, in their opinion, gossips more- men or women, they answered without hesitation that women gossip more. Women that were asked the same questions were not so sure, some thought that women indeed gossip more, some said that men gossip more, and some women claimed that the amount of gossiping is equal between men and women. So, who is right? Do men or women gossip more and what are the reasons for the different perceptions about gossip and gender? The article in the title provides some very interesting answers to these questions. But firstly, the concept of gossip is examined.

What is gossip?

The literature that was reviewed had indicated some interesting points. First, scholars define the concept of gossip in various ways, all of them agree that gossip is a means of communication, but some suggest it is an informal means of communication, and some think that in order to consider a conversation as "gossip" it should be “behind someone’s back”. Some scholars even claim that two-thirds of our conversations involve gossip. Most of the researchers agree that gossip has many positive roles in human communication such as clarification of information, emotional ventilation, strengthening relationships [2, 3] , self-promotion, gaining power, creating alliances and even just having fun. On the other hand, many scholars claimed that gossip is evil, maybe because it can harm the third party- the people that the others are gossiping about. The scriptures of almost all religions disapprove of gossip, and it is forbidden to gossip in many cultures. Moreover, most people deny that they are gossiping and do not wish to be perceived as gossipers, although studies claim otherwise. To conclude, gossip has a bad reputation despite its positive roles.

Gender stereotypes about gossip

Not surprisingly, the common gender stereotype about gossip is that it is a feminine matter, and this impression has been preserved throughout history. Gossip is referred to in metaphors as "the women sword" or "old lady talk". Moreover, many consider women's gossip as less positive than men's gossip. Some studies about gossip repute this perception but many studies, even quite updated studies hold on to this perception, even without empirical evidence. Some scholars claim that men and women gossip about different subjects and therefore it is harder to compare between the gossip of the different genders. The questions asked in the study were: Quantitatively, who gossip more- men or women? What do they gossip about? Who gossip more positively, women or men?

How the research was conducted?

Since the research questions might be complicated for examination, the research was held in dual methodology – quantitative and qualitative. The quantitative method included a validated gossip questionnaire that was developed by Nevo et al. [4] and was answered by 2230 respondents. For the qualitative analysis the respondents were asked to describe a person they met to a friend, 1858 people wrote a description that was later analyzed by qualitative methods– in classical qualitative methods and by text mining software. With the help of the software, the quantitative analysis employed a combination of n-Gram and Bag-of-Words techniques [5, 6] . N-gram frequencies were first generated. N-gram refers to a contiguous sequence of words from a given sequence of text. Next, the ‘Bag-of-Words’ (BOW) technique was used, which is the most common Natural Language Processing (NLP) technique. It is based on the concept that documents are represented as a collection of words, regardless of grammar and word order. Groups of keywords are explored in the documents and summed up as a signal to the existence of the phenomenon examined for each group. After processing the data, a comparison between men and women took place.

What was found?

Due to the combination of methods, two analyses were done. In the quantitative analysis, it was found that men and women gossip quantitively the same, but about different subjects. Women gossip more about relationship and looks and men gossip more about achievements. The latter finding was insignificant but the first – that women tend to gossip about relationship and appearances, was found to be significant. The qualitative findings were even more interesting. Some very interesting quotations from men’s and women’s descriptions are presented in the article. From the quotations it is clear that men oppose gossip to a greater extent than women. The qualitative analysis reflects the variety of perceptions of gossip and it is much more thorough. It appears that women are more positive than men in their descriptions and emphasis appearance. But interestingly, usually when women note something positive about men's looks, they add something negative about his character. Such as, "he dresses nicely but he is always late". What do we learn from the study? A common stereotype blames women for being gossipers. Moreover, it is claimed that women's gossip is more derogatory than men's. The findings of this study refute this stereotype, proving that men and women equally gossip. Indeed, men and women gossip about different subjects, women tend to gossip more about relationships and appearances, but they gossip more positively than men do, although men tend to deny the fact that they are gossiping at all. Moreover, gossip is not necessarily negative by its nature, it can also be positive.


  1. Eckhaus, E., & Ben-Hador, B. (2017). Gossip and gender differences: a content analysis approach. Journal of Gender Studies, 1-12. doi:10.1080/09589236.2017.1411789
  2. Ben Hador, B. (2017). Three Levels of Organizational Social Capital and Their Connection to Performance, Journal of Management Development,36(3), 348-360.
  3. Ben-Hador, B. (2016). Coaching executives as tacit performance evaluation: a multiple case study, Journal of Management Development, 35 (1), 75 – 88.
  4. Nevo, O., Nevo, B., & Derech-Zehavi, A. (1993). The development of the tendency to gossip questionnaire: Construct and concurrent validation for a sample of Israeli college students. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 53(4), 973-981.
  5. Eckhaus, E. (2016). Corporate transformational leadership's effect on financial performance. Journal of Leadership, Accountability and Ethics, 13(1), 90-102.
  6. Eckhaus, E. (2017). A shift in leadership. Academy of Strategic Management Journal, 16(1), 19-31.


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