Gossiping is good for health, helps build deeper bonds. Studies show how
Sharing confidential information with one’s friends can have quite a positive impact on the body and mind as it helps make the burden lighter.Updated: Sep 08, 2020 12:56 IST
We are all a little curious about the goings-on of people who live around us or those whom we work with, and the thrill of knowing something that we probably should not, creates an atmosphere within us that is not entirely healthy.
Having secrets is akin to carrying a huge bag full of boulders around with you all the time. Not only can this be detrimental to the mental well-being of a person, studies conducted by the Assistant Professor of Negotiations at the Columbian Business School in 2015 show that while carrying around a secret, people’s productivity in the workplace is also affected and these secrets take an emotional toll.
Sharing confidential information with one’s friends can have quite a positive impact on the body and mind as it helps make the burden lighter. Even though it is often frowned upon, this age-old act of gossiping has been linked to being the pioneer in establishing a grapevine-like communication channel through which information is shared, albeit unknowingly or unintentionally.
Another Queensland study has found that giving your friends the dirt about someone’s bad behaviour acts as a strong bonding agent as well. To some extent, this research also shows the benefits of the subtle moral policing that accompanies gossiping. In a study conducted in 2018 by Dr Kim Peters of the School of Psychology at the University of Queensland, they showed a group of people a video of someone littering and another of someone picking up the litter.
The following results showed that people who witnessed the littering were more likely to gossip about it rather than those that saw the opposite. Dr Kim Peters commented, “The more they gossiped about it, the more they reported a better understanding of social norms. They also expressed a greater desire to gossip about the behaviour. This suggests that our everyday gossip helps us build social bonds and develop a better understanding of the social groups and societies we belong in.”
Though there have been significant social consequences of gossiping, most have a positive aspect to them, regardless of the stigma associated with them. A 2019 meta-analysis published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, shows that of the 52 minutes a day on average the 467 subjects spent gossiping, three-quarters of that gossip was actually neutral and did not have any negative impact on people’s image.
Studies also show that contrary to popular belief, men are more likely to expose secrets to their peers than women are. Where men could not go with keeping a secret for more than a few minutes at a time, women are far more proficient at this, going at least a few hours before they dish the dirt with a couple of friends.