It may sound unbelievable but, according to studies, we spend about 52 minutes a day discussing someone with someone else, better known as gossiping. Experts have found out however, that the majority of gossip is not just trash talk that we use to vent our emotions. There’s something about gossiping that makes it a meaningful social process, and we all can use it for our own benefit.
Here at Bright Side we’ve taken a closer look at gossiping and its benefits for our psychological health, and here’s what we’ve found.
How do we gossip and is it as toxic as we think?
There is a stereotype that gossips are mean, behind-the-back talks meant to damage someone’s reputation. In fact, gossiping turns out to be an important part of our everyday life and we do it for a reason.
Together with her colleagues, Megan Robbins, a psychologist at the University of California, did some research to find out how we gossip. The team studied the conversations of 467 people who agreed to wear devices that recorded their conversations. The results of the research broke some stereotypes about gossiping: first, we spend about 52 minutes a day gossiping, and second, only 15% of that gossip is negative.
Another thing that experts found is that men tend to gossip just as much as women, while women’s gossip seems to be more neutral than men’s. Besides, extroverts seem to gossip more than introverts, and young people tend to spread negative gossip more often than older people.
Gossiping has turned out to be quite a complicated phenomenon. Experts suggest that over the course of our evolution, gossiping has become our tool of gathering important information that we can use to protect ourselves. Gossiping helps us to build cooperation in our in-groups and be selective about who we include or exclude from these groups.
“When you gossip, you can keep track of who is contributing to the group and who’s being selfish,” says Elena Martinescu, a researcher at King’s College, London. “And by sharing this information, you can exclude those group members who are social loafers.”
What is more, studies have proved that even that 15% of gossip that is mean can do us good. How? It’s simple: when we get to know that people gossip about some of our character traits or behaviors, we can use this information for self-improvement. We may feel hurt and frustrated because of the gossip that people spread behind our backs, but we can also use it as an opportunity to think over the things we may be doing wrong and fix them.
Even though recent studies have shown that gossiping is not as toxic as we often think it is, make sure your gossip is not mean and that it’s not hurting anyone or ruining their reputation. Use gossiping as a chitchat that keeps you updated with the most important facts in your close social circle.
When was the last time you gossiped about someone? Do you know people who love gossiping and can do it for hours on end?