“if there is a positive side of gossip, we believe it is that shared, mild, negative attitudes toward others can create and/or amplify interpersonal intimacy.”
— Jennifer Bosson, PhD and colleagues
Gossip is getting a juicy new buzz in an unlikely source: an academic journal.
Forget the tabloids. Enquiring minds will find the latest scoop on gossip in the journal Personal Relationships.
The journal’s June 2006 edition includes a study on gossip and friendship. The main finding: Mildly negative gossip may help cement new friendships.
The researchers included Jennifer Bosson, PhD, who worked on the study while on staff at the University of Oklahoma’s psychology department. Bosson’s team isn’t recommending negative gossip. Friendships can also form on a more positive foundation.
“Although shared positive attitudes are indeed important in friendship, there seems to be something especially delicious about the process of sharing our grievances about other people,” write Bosson and colleagues.
Bosson and colleagues defined gossip as “an exchange of personal information about absent third parties that can be either evaluatively positive or negative.”
That is, gossip can be nasty or nice, but it’s always about someone who isn’t around.