In recent years researchers have turned to the study of gossip-our predilection for talking about people who are not present. Why is news about others so irresistible?
As it turns out, gossip serves a useful social function in bonding group members together. In the distant past, when humans lived in small bands and meeting strangers was a rare occurrence, gossip helped us survive and thrive.
Our modern-day infatuation with celebrities reveals the ancient evolutionary psychology of gossip in sharp relief: anyone whom we see that often and know that well becomes socially important to us.