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Research: Gossiping isn’t all bad

Gossiping helps people to better understand social norms and to bond with each other

Do you gossip? Do you enjoying gossiping? When was the last time you stood around the water cooler and spoke about what such and such did on the weekend? According to new research if you gossip you are not only learning things about others you are also learning about what is appropriate behaviour and what isn’t.

Dr Peters and Professor Jetten of the UQ school of psychology have found gossiping provides people with a deeper sense of what is typical and appropriate behaviour and helps with bonding.

Dr Peters said “The more they gossiped about it, the more they reported a better understanding of social norms.”

Professor Jetten said gossip has a wider range of social consequences, as can be seen in the current sexual harassment allegations in the American entertainment industry and the resulting #metoo stories on social media.

“Gossiping allows us to monitor the reputations of other people, and by learning about their behaviours we are in a better position to decide whether we should, or should not, trust them in the future,” Professor Jetten said.

“The gossip about Harvey Weinstein has undoubtedly had negative consequences for him, such as the loss of his job and expulsion from a number of prestigious film societies, but it may also have had consequences for all of us who participated in it.”

“Among other things, there seems to be an emerging consensus that sexual harassment at work is more common than many of us may have supposed and that it should definitely not be tolerated.

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