Many of us love a good gossip and now there is no need to feel guilty, as research suggests exchanging juicy information helps people distinguish friends from foe
Many of us love a good gossip and now there’s no need to feel guilty, as research suggests exchanging juicy information helps people distinguish friends from foe.
According to the new study, a good old gossip with your girlfriends helps protect you from harm by helping you to distinguish friends from foe. The human brain has evolved to thrive on tittle-tattle and scientists claim the cattier the better.
The American researchers studied the level of importance the brain attaches to images of people based on the phenomenon of binocular rivalry where a different image is put in front of each eye and the brain sees one before the other.
Volunteers were shown pictures of people and given information about them – some mundane and others tit bits related to positive and negative gossip. Scientists found that volunteers spent longer dwelling on the faces of people embroiled in scandal.
The Harvard University researchers told Science Journal: ‘This preferential selection for perceiving bad people might protect us from liars and cheaters by allowing us to view them for longer and explicitly gather more information about their behaviour.’
‘Gossip is a vital thread in human social interaction. It is a way to learn socially relevant information about other people’s character or personality without having to directly experience their triumphs or misadventures.’
The study suggests gossiping is the human equivalent of picking fleas off each other and accounts for 80 per cent of our daily conversations. ‘It’s functional allowing us to live in big groups.’