Whether it is whispering about an office romance at the water cooler or discussing a neighbour over the garden wall – it seems that the effects of a gossip are far more far reaching than previously thought.
The survey figures revealed that 85 per cent of respondents enjoy hearing juicy gossip and one in 10 individuals find it difficult to keep hold of a secret.
According to psychologist Dr Colin Gill, the act gossiping can boost positive hormone levels within the body that in turn help to reduce stress and anxiety. Gill puts these effects down to the fact that we are taking an interest in what other people are saying and bonding in the process.
‘Peer referencing’ which is a common aspect of gossiping that involves comparing ourselves favourably to the people we are discussing also seems to have positive effects, again boosting happy hormones within the body.
Although gossiping is generally considered to be largely negative and something which the majority of us feel guilty about after we have done it, in evolutionary terms it actually helped us to gather useful information about the characters of others and their behaviour, and still remains necessary to group cohesion.
“It’s a good way of finding out what kinds of behaviour are socially acceptable in your group. If somebody raises their eyebrows as they tell you something about somebody else, you modify your behaviour accordingly.” Said Gill.
Gill went onto say that as long as gossip is not malicious, unpleasant and untrue and it is started out of a spirit of concern then it is perfectly healthy.
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