The Gossip In 'Mean Girls' Serves A Very Important Scientific Purpose

Embrace your inner Regina George.

By Brittney McKenna

There probably aren't too many lessons you want to learn from "Gossip Girl" or "Mean Girls" -- like maybe don't go on an all-carb diet if you're trying to lose weight -- but that's one of only a handful of tips we'd recommend taking from Regina George or Blair Waldorf.

But research by Dr. Robin Dunbar, an evolutionary psychology professor at Oxford University, increasingly suggests there are many benefits to these ladies' favorite activity: gossiping.

Mean girls

Dunbar recently spoke at the Cheltenham Science Festival about the evolutionary benefits of gossiping, a behavior he calls part of "what makes us human," The Telegraph reports.

"The most important thing that will prevent you dying is the size of the social network," Dunbar said at the event. Despite the stigma associated with gossip, he argues the whispering is necessary to maintain your social network and connections.

Science backs up his claims. In a series of experiments, Dr. Jennifer Cole at Manchester University discovered a gossip sweet spot. While people are turned off by excessive gossip, she found, they also don't trust people who never have anything to say about their wild Saturday night out.

Gossip girl

Gossip is a practice that dates back to the earliest human communication. It first served as a means for warning other community members about potential dangers. According to Dunbar's research, gossip didn't get its bad reputation until around the 18th century.

So three-way-calls may not be the safest means of communication, but don't feel too bad the next time you warn a friend about the sleazy dude she's been texting. Just don't pull a -- spoiler! -- Dan Humphrey and start a blog about it.

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