Why is Negotiation Advice for Crystal Harris poised to take over the day’s top spot as Forbes.com’s most popular post as LeBron James’ advice for the NBA fades into obscurity (as my item will tomorrow)?
It’s not just freeway accident rubber-necking.
Following (and criticizing) the lives of celebrities is one of the ways we establish community norms (viz the recent New York Times “Vows” dust-up over cheating spouses celebrating their wedding in the section Carrie Bradshaw once called the “women’s sports pages.”)
As a recent academic article on the subject of gossip and norms noted:
Gossip has many functions, not only providing low-cost access to information about others but also allowing individuals to learn about cultural norms and the consequences of norm violation (Baumeister, Zhang, & Vohs, 2004). These multiple functions may explain why estimates of the proportion of naturally occurring conversation that concerns the doings of other people range as high as 70% (Foster, 2004, p. 79)
See When Will Academics at Last Entitle their Work in a Manner that Communicates its topic to Ordinarily Well-Educated People? here (formal title: Contextualizing Person Perception: Distributed Social Cognition by Eliot R. Smith and Elizabeth C. Collins of Indiana University, Bloomington) at page 349.
If you’re young and poor and marrying old and rich (or want to comment on the good or bad of it) click on the link to the Crystal Harris item.