‐ sharing "social chitchat" (people are hardwired to gossip, ie "social chitchat", "guess what I have just heard". It helps uncover useful information and maintain social alliances. Gossiping illustrates how we communicate, and is best done in groups of fewer than 5 people; use it to your advantage; 2/3 of conversations are social chitchat (we spend on average 20% of the day in conversations); average manager has 7.4 main "gossip connections". It is part of vocal capability in normal, healthy group interaction; gossiping is equivalent to grooming in other primates and is used to form & maintain alliances/bonds; seek & share information, especially with people we like; touch is important for humans in social bonding, etc; linked with networking & reciprocity; use gossip to your advantage, ie don't try to stop it, make it effective, eg encourage social "get to-gethers" for chitchat; social groupings of around 4 preferred, ie able to hold people's attention; electronic equipment, like phones, etc, are tools for social chitchat plus status symbols. Keen on stories as used to educate by passing on information, provide links with emotions, make sense of uncertainty, are a way to communicate and demonstrate identity)

Linked with the gossiping is "negging", ie

"...a kind of emotional manipulation in which someone makes a backhanded compliment to the other to erode their confidence and increase their need for approval..."

Amina Khan 2018

Thus gossip is talking between at least 2 people about absent others.

Despite what many people think, gossip can be healthy as only around 4% is malicious.

Research has shown that

- if 2 people share negative feelings about a third person, they are likely to feel closer to each other than they would if they both felt positive about the person

- hearing gossip about others makes people more reflective

- positive gossip inspired self-improvement efforts

- negative gossip make people feel proud of themselves

- on hearing negative gossip, people are more likely to say they have learnt a lesson

- negative gossip can have a pro-social affect, eg if people were ostracised from the group owing to gossip about reputed selfishness, they are more likely to reform their ways in an attempt to regain the approval of the people they have alienated.

It has been suggested

"...our primate ancestors bonded through grooming, their mutual backscratching ensuring mutual self-defence in the event of attack by a predator. But as hominids grew more intelligent and more social, the groups became too large to unite by grooming alone. That's where language - and gossip, broadly defined - stepped in...... idle chatter with and about others gave early humans a sense of shared identity and help them grow more aware of their environment..."

Ben Healy 2018

So gossiping is actually promoting co-operation, boosting others' self-esteem, etc !!!

Traditional thoughts are that
"...gossiping is a sign of low character. To refrain from it indicates probity, to ignore it is good judgement..."
Ian Leslie 2018

However, there is a saying
"...Don't trust people who don't gossip. There is something cold and bloodless about them, and I always felt as if they were hiding something, from others or from themselves......disdain for rumour and gossip conceals 'drive for authoritarian control'......gossip is egalitarian and and subversive......gossip is dangerous because it is unaccountable..."
Gloria Origgi as quoted by Ian Leslie 2018

"...gossip is conventionally characterised as feminine..."
Ian Leslie 2018

This could be explained by the

- male dislike for intimate conversation

- gossip as a weapon used by people, especially women, against more powerful adversaries.


Search For Answers

designed by: bluetinweb

We use cookies to provide you with a better service.
By continuing to use our site, you are agreeing to the use of cookies as set in our policy. I understand