Why Experts Say Gossip and Rumors Can Actually Be a Good Thing

gossipBy Staff Blogger

Sometimes when you hear a juicy little piece of news about a friend or a coworker you want to keep it locked up so that you don’t look like a gossip, but sometimes that information just slips out. Most of us think that gossip is bad but it can actually be a good thing in certain situations. It could prevent people from doing things that they know they shouldn’t do.

Researchers at the University of California have done some work on the good side of gossiping. There are certain aspects of it that can help in social situations. The study is called “The Virtues of Gossip” and explains that through gossip of other people it can be a warning to others about what not to do.

When someone’s bad behaviors are exploited through idle gossip other people can see how damaging that behavior is if others find out about it. Perhaps someone has cheated on a spouse and the rumor mill begins in the office. Someone else who is thinking about having an affair may think twice after seeing how quickly word can spread.

Professor Robb Willer conducted a study through Craigslist where 300 people played an economic trust game and were entered to win $50 after playing the game. The participants knew that they were being watched and if they did something that was not fair to the others that were playing the game they would be called out for it. This made almost everyone exceptionally more generous during the game. Groups of people were hooked up to heart rate monitors while they watched two others play the game. When they spotted someone who was cheating their heart rates would increase, almost giving a warning sign to that player.

While there is negative gossip out there such as when people spread untrue rumors about others in an effort to hurt them, gossip that is fact can be good and can make people a little more mindful of their actions.

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