A social psychologist has claimed that gossiping is fundamental to being human. In fact, it is this singular trait that separates us from animals.
While speaking at British Science Festival, Dr Nicholas Emler, from University of Surrey said it was fundamental to being human and gossiping was the reason we developed our unique ability to talk.
Despite its "dismal reputation", gossiping has allowed people to build far bigger, richer and complex societies than other creatures.
"We can exchange social information. We can form much more complex societies than other animals because we gossip.
"In fact it is gossip that sets us apart from other animals. It is fundamental to being human. It allows us to know about people that we have never met," he added.
In his study of 300 volunteers, Elmer found that human beings spent nearly 80 per cent of their interactions with other people sharing social information.
"This latest research makes sense of the larger picture," he said.
"Baboons and chimps, some of our closest relatives, have complex societies because individuals know a lot about each other.
"But because they cannot talk they rely on direct observations and so they are limited to groups of around 50.
"The one thing that sets us apart is that we can talk to each other. With gossip you can know about 100,000 other people without knowing them," he added.