In 3 studies with student samples, we advance a social-motivational approach to gossip. We developed the Motives to Gossip Questionnaire to distinguish negative influence, information gathering and validation, social enjoyment, and group protection as motives underlying gossip. Study 1 demonstrated that these motives can be distinguished empirically, and that the informational motive was the most prevalent reason to instigate gossip. Study 2 showed that group protection was especially important when the opportunity to gossip with a group member about another member's norm-violating behavior was salient. Study 3 showed that when participants imagined someone gossiped to them about another group member's norm violation, and ascribed this to group protection, they rated the gossip as social and did not disapprove of it. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.