Without gossip, to be fair, my job might not exist. “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” would be off the air. And many of our most fun conversations might not happen. If you got caught spreading gossip in 16th or 17th century England, reports The Atlantic, you could be forced to wear a mask with iron spikes shoved into your mouth so you couldn’t talk. Alas, a new study shows that gossip is useful as a social construct, when it hasn’t totally gained, like, 15 pounds.According to evolutionary psychologist Robin Dunbar, social topics like personal relationships, likes and dislikes, and anecdote about social activities make up two thirds of all conversations. The remaining one-third is for that other stuff, where we might have less in common: politics, sports, music. But gossip is different from just chatting about social topics, and we all know it when we hear it.The researchers (who I heard are all having affairs) believe gossip is “an opportunity find out how someone did something right, or something wrong, and learn from the example.” So gossip acts to control social norms, which is why when someone does something previously unheard of — like celebrities appearing onscreen without makeup — it either takes some time to become normal, or it gets trashed in the social circuit.So go ahead, share some dirt!