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Achtung! Bad gossip breeds friendship

Bad gossip or sharing negative attitudes about others can create intimacy between two people, says a study.

india Updated: May 19, 2006 14:01 IST
Indo-Asian News Service
Indo-Asian News Service

Bad gossip or sharing negative attitudes about others has its positive side. It can create or increase intimacy between two people, says a study.

In the study, published in the June issue of the journal Personal Relationships, researchers found that negative attitudes are frequently shared among friends and can even promote friendships among strangers, reported the science portal EurekAlert.

In the first two parts of the study, the researchers instructed two groups of participants of the study to list the positive and negative attitudes they shared at the early and later stages of close relationships.

Both groups recalled more negative than positive attitudes about other people.

In the third section, participants listened to a conversation between two fictional characters and explained what they liked or did not like about a speaker (a third person).

They were then told that they shared or did not share the same thoughts as another participant whom they would be partnered with.

The authors found that those whose partners had a mutual dislike of the third person felt closer to this stranger than those who shared a liking.

The researchers said gossip is alluring because it establishes in-group or out-group boundaries, boosts self-esteem and conveys highly informative information about the attitude holder.

"We certainly do not deny that gossip behaviour has it drawbacks," the study authors and researchers state.

"Still, if there is a positive side of gossip, we believe it is that shared, mild, negative attitudes toward others can create and/or amplify interpersonal intimacy," it said.

First Published: May 19, 2006 13:00 IST