To complement views of gossip as essentially a means of gaining information about individuals, cementing social bonds, and engaging in indirect aggression, the authors propose that gossip serves to help people learn about how to live in their cultural society. Gossip anecdotes communicate rules in narrative form, such as by describing how someone else came to grief by violating social norms. Gossip is thus an extension of observational learning, allowing one to learn from the triumphs and misadventures of people beyond one's immediate perceptual sphere. This perspective helps to explain some empirical findings about gossip, such as that gossip is not always derogatory and that people sometimes gossip about strangers.
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