We all like a bit of validation; someone else to tell us we’re ok and it’s all good.
So, Gossip Fever was delighted to hear that some very smart researchy types have scientifically proven that gossip can be good for you… and for other people. A recent study at the swanky University of California, Berkeley, found that what they call prosocial gossip can help people in a whole bunch of different ways: it can reduce stress, prevent exploitation and help keep dishonest people in check.
Prosocial Gossip involves warning people about the dodgy behaviour of others e.g. if you know someone is a cheat and you warn your friends. Now, this good type of gossip doesn’t cover everything; if you’re spreading nasty gossip and you don’t know if it’s true or not, you can’t claim to be doing the world a favour.
The sciencey types set up an experiment where someone was cheating in a game and then gave people watching the chance to warn others about the cheat. It’s pretty nice to know that the vast majority of people were keen to put their gossiping skills to good use and let the victim know they were being cheated. They even set up a scenario where people had to pay to warn the victim and 3/4 of people still chose to do the right thing.
The people watching the cheating were getting frustrated and stressed about it, but when they warned the victims they started to relax and feel better straight away. So you can forget the meditation and the whale song music, just get involved in a bit of good gossip when you need to chill out.
As for helping to prevent exploitation, well that’s pretty straightforward; if you’re warning someone about a dodgy sod they can save themselves from being taken for a ride.
Now, helping to keep the dishonest people in check is a pretty interesting one. It seems that people with a leaning towards the dark side have a healthy fear of the power of a good bit of gossiping. While they might have no problem doing some dodgy deeds, they really don’t want everyone to know about it, so much so that they’ll often just give up on their heinous plans rather than suffer the gossiping consequences.
Fair enough, not all gossip is good, but it looks like the nasty rep that gossiping has might be undeserved. So, next time you’re called a gossip just inform the person that you’re an anti-exploitation activist who’s de-stressing and acting as a deterrent to anti-social behaviour.
Can you think of any times where a piece of gossip has helped save the day? What are your thoughts on the idea that gossip can be good? Let us know in the comments box.