Why Women Gossip
Find out the perks and pitfalls of our gift for gab
Of course, trading intimacies and confidences has always been the wampum of women's relationships. Back in the prehistoric day, we huddled in the kitchen of the cave and gossiped while our men hunted down dinner. But recent scientific research suggests that sharing isn't just a gender-based pastime that brings us together and helps us bond. Nor does talking about our issues simply stoke our innate narcissism. It feels as addictive as devouring those greasy Thai noodles because it profoundly alters our physiology.
"If we run to our friends when we have a problem, it literally has a calming effect on the body," says Stephanie Brown, adjunct assistant professor at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan. "Intuitively, we know we are going to feel better if we do it." A few years ago, Brown made a big breakthrough on what drives women to share. Researchers already knew that we are more prone to self-disclosure than men, thanks to higher levels of progesterone. Often referred to as a "sex hormone" because it prepares the uterus for fertilization, progesterone spurs maternal feelings and social bonding. It also aids in reducing stress and anxiety. But what Brown discovered was that the act of sharing actually increased our levels of the hormone.
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