Gossip may be beneficial in some ways, at least for those doing the gossiping, a new British study suggests.
People who gossip feel more supported, and positive gossip (praising another person) may give a short-term lift to the gossiper's self-esteem, said the researchers from Staffordshire University in the United Kingdom.
In the study, Jennifer Cole and Hannah Scrivener looked at the responses of 160 participants who completed questionnaires that asked about their tendency to gossip, their self-esteem, social support and satisfaction with life. Higher levels of gossip were associated with feelings of greater support but were not associated with self-esteem or life satisfaction.
Next, the researchers asked 140 people to talk either negatively or positively about a fictional person. Those who talked positively felt greater self-esteem than those who were told to speak negatively.
"Gossiping is usually seen as a bad thing. Our findings suggest some forms of gossiping - particularly of the type where people praise others - could be linked with some desirable outcomes for the gossiper despite the fact that gossipers are not generally approved of," Cole said in a British Psychological Society news release.
The findings were presented at a British Psychological Society conference.