Are Gossips Just Unproductive Conversations Or Play A Role In Our Social Setting?

Watercooler conversation, small talk, hearsay, chitchat – there are plenty of polite and not-so-polite ways to refer to gossiping. Whether you enjoy it or detest it, it can be hard to stay out of these discussions entirely. From schools to offices, almost everyone gossips at least sometimes. Gossiping is often seen from a morally bad perspective. After all, gossiping almost always implies sharing information that is neither confirmed nor public.

But gossiping isn’t always a bad thing, according to NBC News. In fact, the very act of sharing information may be a relic of our distant past when sharing and communicating information was necessary for survival.

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“It’s just social information and we learn a lot about the social world around us when we gossip,” explained Megan Robbins, an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Riverside to NBC.

A 2019 study published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, found that nearly everyone gossips and most gossip is neither positive nor negative. The study took 467 participants (all adults) and outfitted them with electronic recorders for a period of 2-5 days. The scientists collected random samples of their daily conversations and analyzed all gossip, which they classified as any conversation about a person who wasn’t present. The researchers also coded the gossip into three categories – ‘positive’, ‘negative, or ‘neutral’ according to a standardized scale.

The study found that 434 out of 467 participants gossiped at least once. They also found that most of the conversations, about 75 percent, were classified as neutral. Only 25 percent of conversations were categorized as negative or positive and the amount of non-neutral gossip was the same among women and men. People who were gossiping more were extroverts and introverts preferred to stay away from such conversations.

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Scientists also suggest that gossiping helps maintain social order. Additional research revealed that a lot of gossip was morally motivating and had a positive effect on individuals. Social and behavioural scientists suggest that gossip is one of the forces that promote cooperation among different groups and it helps people to avoid those who cannot be trusted.

So, what do you think? Can gossiping be a good thing or just a waste of time?

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