Men sometimes roll their eyes when women gossip, but don’t let them fool you. They do it too — just about different things. And it actually has a positive effect on their friendships.

Canadian researcher Dr. David C. Watson recently conducted a study wherein he learned that while women tend to gossip with their girlfriends about someone’s physical appearance or “social information” topics like relationships, men were much more likely to engage in “achievement related” chatfests involving grades, salaries, and other status-oriented subjects.

Dr. Watson said that since male friendships are characterized by engaging in group activities, “gossip can serve to enhance the bond between individuals within the group.” That means their gossip actually strengthens their friendships, likely because men tend to bond based on status — and the more knowledge and control of information they have, the more apt they are to increase their status.

For women, the opposite can be true. “Female friendships are more characterized by communion or intimacy,” says Watson. “Gossip can be more of a threat to the relationship than it [is] in male friendships.”

The bottom line?

Watson says that although the function of gossip may differ based on the nature of male and female friendships, it has “an important friendship function as it can be positive, negative, or neutral.”