Gossiping lowers stress levels

Don't feel guilty about having a good gossip as scientists claim tittle-tattle benefits the wider society

Women love a good gossip, and now we don’t need to feel guilty as scientists claim idle chit-chat benefits both the gossiper and society.

The team from the University of California, Berkeley say gossiping can help control bad behaviour, prevent someone being exploited and even lower stress levels.

The study focused on pro-social gossip where those passing on information arewarning others about untrustworthy or dishonest people.

‘Passing on gossip ameliorated negative feelings and tempered frustration,’ says co-author of the study, Robb Willer. ‘Gossiping made them feel better.’

The scientists found participants heart rates increased when they witnessed cheating in a game, and most seized the opportunity to warn others of the unfair play. The experience of warning others caused their heart rate to decrease.

‘We shouldn’t feel guilty for gossiping if the gossip helps prevent others from being taken advantage of,’ says lead author Matthew Feinberg.

‘Gossip gets a bad rap,’ says Mr Willer. ‘But we’re finding evidence that it plays a critical role in the maintenance of social order.’

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