When you hear the word "gossip," what do you think of? Talking behind someone's back? Hurting a friend's feelings? Juicy info on the rich and famous? Do you find your mind straying from equations and formulas to how a person as smart as guy A could ever go out with a girl as lacking in brain cells as girl B or why person C dumped person D for person E? Well, after tons of bad press, recent studies have come up with some surprising news...Gossip is good!
Thanks to the curiosity and hard work of psychologists and anthropologists, we can now feel better about the two-thirds of our conversation that has been evaluated as gossip.
According to their research, gossip is not just a trivial pastime; it is essential to human social, psychological, and even physical well being. Not only is it the way we vent our opinions, it also has been found to relieve stress and boost the immune system. In other words, gossip is good!
Gossip involves more than sharing information about other people's lives...it includes your feelings about this information. Hardly ever do we share details on who is doing what with whom without including our take on what's going on. The informal, chatty nature of gossip lends itself to all forms of communication...letters, gossip columns, emails, text messaging, and includes the problems of supermodels and movie stars in the mix of stories about friends and family.
It is through gossip that we learn the rules of our social circle. It explains what kind of conduct is and is not acceptable, why people are liked and disliked, and how to resolve conflicts.
Did you know that...
Boys gossip as much as girls? Research has proven that boys gossip just as long and about the same subjects as girls...they just tend to talk more about themselves! They are less animated, though, and offer less detail than we do. We definitely win at making our gossip more entertaining!
Only about five to seven percent of gossip time is devoted to criticism and negative words about someone else...but this negative gossip is good. It has social benefits in terms of learning the rules and bonding socially.
When it comes to cell phones, teens gossip in longer conversations than older people. They gossip significantly more with friends of the same sex. And again, contrary to rumor, guys gossip more on their cell phones than girls do.
Text messaging gossip is good because it has been found to help overcome awkwardness and inhibitions and aid in developing social and communication skills. While it might not do much to improve your grammar or spelling, it does build confidence. Kids wind up communicating with more people and more frequently than they ever would, if text messaging didn't exist. As an added benefit, they practice their ability to summarize and express themselves concisely.
That two-thirds statistic holds true no matter the setting, the age, or the social background of those doing the talking. Even in universities and in corporate board rooms, gossip takes up five times more of the conversation time than politics, business, or intellectual issues!