What if we told you gossip could be a good thing? From childhood, we are told that speaking behind a person’s back, indulging in rumours or reveling in idle chit chat is the kind of behaviour would label one ‘a gossip’. However, researchers have shown that many of the things that we are often told are bad for us, actually have some pretty impressive benefits.
word of mouth
Evolutionary Psychologist Robin Dunbar established the notion of ‘gossip-as-grooming’.
One thing that is certain when it comes to gossip is that no one likes to be be at the centre of it. But, for those who like to do the talking, there is good news. Gossip provides a vital social purpose that is fundamental to human being’s group survival. Evolutionary Psychologist Robin Dunbar established the notion of ‘gossip-as-grooming’. Drawing similarities to the chimpanzees cleaning the fur of their mates, gossip can help to strengthen the intimate relationship between a set of individuals. Talking about the dramas of other people’s lives and passing moral judgement helps to create an alliance of ideas and opinions, contributing to our social bonds and improving the cohesion of a group. While, for newcomers to a group, listening to gossip can provide a better understanding of social behaviours and the status quo.
If this isn’t a convincing enough reason to revel in idle chat, more recently, researchers at the university of University of Palva in Italy discovered physiological evidence to back the claim that gossip is good. In a study involving 22 students, they discovered that our brains release higher levels of oxytocin after participating in gossip-focused conversations in comparison to conversations of other types. Known as the ‘pleasure hormone’, oxytocin is the chemical that is released through physical touch, during and after sex and mother-child bonding.
To test these theories participants in a female-centric study were randomly assigned into two groups. In the first group, the students were encouraged participate in a conversation that involved gossip about a campus pregnancy, while the second group took part in a emotional conversation led by an actress who had experienced a life-changing sports injury. On the second day of the study, the participants were invited to participate in a ‘neutral’ conversation. Taking swabs of saliva from the mouths of the participants after each session, the researchers found that the pleasure hormone has seen significant increase during the gossipy conversation, while cortisol, the body’s primary stress hormone had decreased.
There is evidence to show that taking photographs of ourself can actually do a lot to boost individuals’ self-esteem.
Critiqued as the ‘me-generation’, selfie-taking millenials are no strangers to the criticism that comes with the desire to capture moments. Branded as narcissism, tech-obsession and just not knowing how to live in the moment, frequent photo-taking is increasingly demonised as anti-social behaviour. However, multiple works of research have revealed that taking photos of ourselves and our activities can actually boost our levels of satisfaction in all aspects of our lives.
All of us know the scenario. You’re dining out with friends and the food arrives, but before you can pick up your cutlery to dig in, someone insists on pausing the process to capture the ideal image for Instagram. As frustrating as this can be, research has demonstrated that when we take photographs of our food before we eat it, diners actually report greater satisfaction with the delayed gratification acting as the perfect way to build anticipation in our taste buds.
Meanwhile, a study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology revealed that this translates to other life events too. Within a group of 2,000 participants, individuals encouraged to take photos during the activities they were invited to reported higher levels of enjoyment than than those who did not. So, while photo taking is often coined as distracting people from an experience, there is evidence to show that taking photographs of ourself can actually do a lot to boost individuals’ self-esteem.
More so, Selfies are increasingly being used to breakdown beauty standards. The #bodypositivity movement demonstrates that social media can be a supportive and inclusive environment. While, on the political front selfies have also been key for empowering marginalised communities such like women, people of colour and the LGBTQ community when demanding that their voices be heard and stories be told.
Ultimately the benefits of gossip is an area that requires a little more exploration, however it still offers good reason to indulge.