Rumour has it that gossiping may actually be good for you.
While typically viewed as destructive and reserved for the feeble-minded, new research shows that gossiping may not be completely negative. In fact, it may actually promote some healthy behaviours.
As Quartz reports, a new study published in the medical journal Psychoneuroendocrinology highlights how gossiping affects the hormone levels responsible for feelings of euphoria, love and trust.
At least, it does in female college students.
The study of female college students (between the ages of 20 and 22) found that gossiping caused their bodies to release more of the hormone oxytocin, which is also known as the “love drug.” Oxytocin is responsible for friendly, healthy social behaviour because it promotes relationship bonding and feelings of trust and generosity. When the women were instructed to gossip about another student, their brains released more oxytocin than when they were told about another student who had injured herself and needed their emotional support.
This isn’t the first study to reveal the potential psychological benefits to gossiping.
A 2012 study at the University of California, Berkeley suggested that gossiping promoted social bonding. The study led the researchers to identify a type of gossip called “pro-social gossip,” a type of gossip that alerts others about potentially dishonest, untrustworthy or harmful people.
The Berkeley study asked participants to observe another person behaving selfishly. They were then allowed to gossip and warn the other participants about the dishonest person – and when they did, they felt more positive. According to the researchers, this was because sharing the information helped to relieve stress.
Whether it’s a distraction from the harsh realities of the world or because we have nothing else to talk about, it seems we’re all guilty of turning to the grapevine. As Quartz reports, almost 70 per cent of our daily conversations revolve around talking about other people.But that’s not to say that it can’t have some seriously damaging consequences, especially in our social media-saturated world.
While Gossip has the power to save boring and awkward dinner conversations, it also has the power to ruin both reputations and lives.