While most people assume that girls are bigger gossips than boys, a new study carried out by the University of Georgia, has suggested otherwise.
The researchers, who surveyed 620 American students between the ages of 11 and 17, identified the phenomenon of “mean boys” who engage in more social aggression than girls, such as spreading more false rumors than girls by far.
Regardless of the age range, 96 percent of boys admitted they had passed a rumour or made a nasty comment about someone over the course of the seven-year study.
The study, published in the U.S. journal Aggressive Behavior noted that, “It gets nasty when [boys] are about 12, when hormones kick in and they move into bigger schools where social competition is more extreme.”
At the same time, a teacher from County Durham, Beverley Briggs, wrote in the Times Educational Supplement, “It’s difficult to know whether boys indulging in the covertly harmful behaviours associated with girls is a new phenomenon or simply one that society has previously failed to acknowledge.”
Nevertheless, Jack Taylor, who heads a school for children with special needs, said that he thinks boys and girls are equally guilty.
“The girls in my school – especially the more cognitively able – spread malicious rumours and gang together to form cliques to separate and ostracise others. The behaviour is very explicit and they seem to get a great deal of satisfaction from rubbing the victim’s nose in it, saying things like, “We’re doing this at break and you’re not,” just so the victim will know that they are being excluded. But the boys’ behaviour is different.”
Despite that, another educator, Emma Blair from a Glasgow secondary school, said both sexes are as bad as each other, but that boys express it more through competitive sports. “Boys use team games to be mean to each other. On the football field they’ll gang up against another student. They’ll avoid passing to a particular kid.”