We think of gossip as being petty and generally unsavory—and some of it is—but gossiping to warn people of others' bad behavior is good for society and good for your heart, studies show.
We think of gossip as being petty, rumor-inducing, and generally an unsavory means of communication. This aspect of gossip can certainly be true, but a new study shows that gossip can also have major benefits -- for society and for the individual.
"Gossip gets a bad rap, but we're finding evidence that it plays a critical role in the maintenance of social order," said study author Robb Willer.
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Willer and colleagues did a series of experiments to determine what role gossip plays in social interaction. In one phase of the study participants, hooked up to a heart rate monitor, watched other people ("confederates," working for the researchers) play a game in which they had to share dollars or points with another. It became obvious that some players weren't playing fairly and hoarded points. When observing the dishonest players, the participants' heart rates rose.