Ever wondered why people gossip? Well, science has the answer

Love it, hate it, but you still do it. Why though?
Good, bad, and ugly side of gossiping -- backed by science.
Sonakshi Kohli Updated: 17 Nov 2019, 19:38 pm IST
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The Oxford Dictionary defines gossip as “an informal talk involving stories about other people’s private lives, that may be unkind or not true”. We call it a part and parcel of life. Offices, schools, colleges, family gatherings—there’s no place devoid of gossip mongers.

We may love this exchange of information or we may loathe it, but we are all guilty of indulging in it some way or the other. Nope, don’t bother denying your interest or involvement in it because we’ve all been there and done that.

But have you ever thought about why we end up gossiping about others, knowing very well that if others gossip about us, it won’t be as pleasurable? Well, science has the answer and maybe knowing it can help you forgive those who just can’t keep secrets or their unsolicited opinions about others to themselves:

It’s what makes people bond: You don’t need any scientific proof for this one because the sparkle and mutual love in the eyes of two people gossiping about a common enemy or someone they both dislike is enough to show how doing so can make them get along like a house on fire. However, for the sake of your satisfaction, here’s some evidence to re-establish the known and the very obvious: Several anthropologists believe that throughout human history, gossip has been used as a tool to bond with others and to corner the ones who don’t support the common ideas or principles of a particular group.

As per a review in the journal, Frontiers Research, this is another reason why people prefer gossiping.

It can make people feel better about themselves: It could be jealousy talking or simply hatred speaking, but when the subject of your dislike isn’t around, it obviously gives you a free pass to say whatever you want about them. Plus, what could be better than garnering support by spreading your negative opinion of them?

It’s a boredom killer: A 2004 study revealed that gossip has recreational value for many people and they use it as a means of entertainment. 

It could be a cover-up for anxiety: Sometimes your own insecurities and inferiority complexes can make you anxious and drive you to paint others in a negative light in order to feel better about yourself. Additionally, gossiping can also make you feel like you are the one on the controlling front as according to a 2012 study, gossip serves as an informal policing device for controlling free riders and social cheats, you see. 

All said and done, gossip seems to be an inevitable part of our existence. However, the next time you indulge, remember that spreading vicious rumours or talking ill about someone in the name of “healthy gossip” can put you at the receiving end of it too. So, think before you do it again. 

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