Gossip is essential in all societies. Why? Why is it focused on sex, power, relatives, power, health and similar issues? What do they have in common? Why do we gossip now about movie stars? And about soap opera characters? How can these ideas be applied to advertising? How would you measure the effects of this advertising?


It seems to be a maladapted trait: The content of gossip (adultery, for instance) was very relevant for reproduction in our ancestral past but many of these contents are now much less relevant (genetic tests can avoid many costs of wives’ adultery for their males). About stars, anchormen, etc. we seem to be programmed to consider them as family members after being exposed for a while to their close presence on TV: our mind is partly feeling them as if they were our relatives. This makes them all important for advertising. 

The informational basis of gossip may also explain the pervasiveness of informal organizational structures. It lends credit to the practice of collecting information informally, called lately “managing by walking around,” which consists of visiting departments on a regular basis and talking with people at all levels in the organization.

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