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Why Do We Gossip? Psychology Behind Gossip And More!

To some people, gossip is therapeutic. The comfort of sharing a few resentful words in confidence gives people an uncanny lift.

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A new Canadian research answers why we gossip and suggests that the practice is actually good for us! Pixabay

Canada, October 6, 2017: “He got a pay rise? Ah, he’s a smooth talker, after all!” Hushed conversations in the corridors often begin like that, don’t they?

To some people, gossip is therapeutic. The comfort of sharing a few resentful words in confidence gives people an uncanny lift. But why do we gossip? And more importantly, why do we love to gossip?

We are all aware that we shouldn’t talk about people behind their backs. However, despite condemning the practice, in theory, we are all guilty of indulging in gossips every now and then. But why do we gossip, after all?

A new Canadian research answers the question and suggests that the practice is actually good for us!

The Research

As part of the research, 290 heterosexual Canadian students aged 17-30 were required to full three questionnaires as honestly as possible.

One set of questions aimed to measure their competitiveness against fellow members who associated with the same gender. This competition further strengthened if the participants saw fellow members as a potential competitor for a partner.

The other two questionnaires were focused to gauge the probability of the participants to indulge in gossip and positioned instances if and when they think gossiping are acceptable.

Psychology Behind Gossip

The results revealed that people competitive towards fellow members of the same sex indulged in increased levels of gossip. Further, these members were more likely to hold the viewpoint that gossiping about people behind their backs is okay.

The study also established that women demonstrated higher chances of indulging in gossip than men. It further suggested that gossiping allows women to gather more information about potential competitors while on the lookout for partners. Hence, females placed increasing social value in participating in gossip.

why do we gossip
The research says women gossip to gather a man’s attention. Pixabay

It was further revealed that women gossiped more about physical appearances and discussed other social information. On the other hand, men talked about the achievements of others behind their backs.

Researchers Reveal Why Do We Gossip

According to Adam Davis, the lead researcher of the study from the University of Ottawa, Canada, “The findings demonstrate that gossip is intimately linked to mate competition and not solely the product of a female gender stereotype that may be viewed as pejorative.”

The study successfully answers the question: ‘Why do we gossip?” and suggests that gossiping should not be perceived as a flaw of one’s character.

Davis believes gossiping is a highly evolved social trait and mandates its importance for healthy interpersonal relationships.

By indulging in gossip, members of the community attempt to show off enviable characteristics- Adam Davis terms this as ‘intrasexual competition’.

The research concluded that there exists a positive link between perception towards gossiping, the amount of gossiping that individuals indulge in and the level of intrasexual competitiveness.

Gossip And Its Effects

Like there are two sides to a coin, the practice of gossiping can be both, good and bad.

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We often indulge in gossip to share our worries and seek reassurance and support. Alternatively, by talking about others, we often attempt to speak well about ourselves and our addressee, however indirectly.

However, gossip can take a demeaning route if it is motivated by an underlying nastiness. It can very easily escalate to distrust and awkwardness.

Going by this new research that traces the legitimacy of indulging in gossip, there exists a need to refine our stance about gossip.

(The research can be accessed online in the journal Evolutionary Psychological Science.)

Next Story

Why women tend to gossip more than men?

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Why women tend to gossip more than men?.Pixabay

Women may be more likely than men to use gossiping and rumour-mongering as tactics to badmouth a potential rival who is competing for a man’s attention. Women also gossip more about other women’s looks, whereas men talk about cues to resource holding (wealth) and the athleticism of their competitors, said the study published in the journal Evolutionary Psychological Science.

“Gossiping is a highly evolved social skill and an intrasexual competition tactic that relates to women’s and men’s evolved preferences,” said Adam Davis of the University of Ottawa in Canada. The researchers surveyed across 290 heterosexual Canadian students between the ages of 17 and 30 years with three questionnaires — one measuring how competitive the participants are towards members of the same sex as their own, especially in terms of access to the attention of potential mates.

The other questionnaires measured the tendency and likelihood of the participants to gossip about others, the perceived social value of gossip, and whether it is okay to talk about others behind their backs. It was found that people who were competitive towards members of their own sex had a greater tendency to gossip. They were also more comfortable with the practice than others.

Women had a greater tendency to gossip than men. They participated in more chit-chat and enjoyed it even further. Women also found gossip to have greater social value, which may allow them to gather more information about possible competitors in the game of finding a mate.

The findings provide evidence that gossip is an intrasexual competition tactic that corresponds to women’s and men’s evolved mate preferences. It also reflects the different strategies used by the sexes in their quest to find suitable mates, Davis said.

“The findings demonstrate that gossip is intimately linked to mate competition and not solely the product of a female gender stereotype that may be viewed as pejorative,” Davis added.(IANS)