We’ve always been told that it’s not nice to gossip. Now a new study says it can actually have some positive benefits, at least for the person doing the gossiping. According to the findings, gossipers feel more supported, and positive gossip — praising somebody — may actually lead to a short-term boost in gossipers’ self-esteem.
Researchers at Staffordshire University in the United Kingdom instructed 160 participants to complete questionnaires relating to their tendency to gossip and measures of their social support, self-esteem and satisfaction with life. They found that higher levels of gossiping were associated with feelings of greater social support. 140 participants in a follow-up study were asked to talk about a fictional person positively or negatively. The researchers found that those who described the fictional character positively felt greater self-esteem than those who talked about them negatively.
The authors of the study say these findings suggest that some forms of gossiping — particularly the type where people praise others — could be associated with some desirable outcomes for the gossiper.