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Where do the Rumours Come From? Scientists have found out who likes to Gossip and How Much

04.06.2019 Author: psiholog pavel horoshutin
Gossip myths

Psychologists have dispelled popular myths about gossip after analysing four thousand conversations.

Megan Robbins, assistant professor of the psychology department at the University of California, and Alexander Karan, a graduate student, studied the data from 467 people, 269 women and 198 men, aged from 18 to 58 years old. All of them carried portable sound recording devices with them for several days, and the devices recorded conversations during the day. 10% of conversations were recorded in random order, after which they were analysed by the staff of the department.

According to the emotional connotation, gossip was subdivided into:

  • positive,
  • neutral,
  • negative.

On the subject of discussion, gossip was grouped in the following ranks:

  • talking about friends and neighbours,
  • talking about celebrities.

According to Ozhegov’s classical Dictionary of the Russian Language, gossip is a rumour about something based on inaccurate or supposedly wrong information. In the leading English language dictionaries, gossip has another meaning: talking about the personal life of another person outside his/her presence. Researchers viewed gossip in this “English” sense.

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Based on the results of the analysis, the researchers came to interesting conclusions:

  • Poor people gossip as much as the rich. There is a popular belief that wealthy people have more free time while people with low incomes are more concerned with getting their daily bread so they have no time to gossip. It turned out that this is not the case. Education levels didn’t matter either.
  • People spend an average of 52 minutes a day on gossip. Talking about others takes up 14% of all conversations, or 1 in 16 waking hours per day.
  • Men gossip as much as women. Women surpassed men only by the amount of neutral gossiping – that is, the simple transfer of information.
  • Young people often gossip with a negative connotation. At the same time, people of all ages give about the same time over to gossiping.
  • We discuss people we know more often than celebrities. The subjects of the test gossiped about celebrities in only 369 out of 4,000 conversations.

As a result, it turned out that everyone gossips – and they gossip a lot. Even more, gossip is an integral part of communication. Gossipers are highly socialized; they easily make acquaintances and can join almost any conversation. And even more, researchers at the University of Michigan have generally found that gossip increases serotonin and endorphin levels, which have a beneficial effect on hormones. So, Godspeed for gossip!