Recent study explores nuances of gossips

DN Bureau

A first of its kind study dug deep into the nitty-gritty of gossips and tried to answer questions like who gossips the most, what topics do people gossip about, and how often people gossip.

Representational Image
Representational Image

Washington D.C: Turns out it is not just ladies who love indulging in spicy gossip sessions, men do too. A first of its kind study dug deep into the nitty-gritty of gossips and tried to answer questions like who gossips the most, what topics do people gossip about, and how often people gossip. 

"If you're going to look at gossip like an academic, remove the value judgment we assign to the word. Gossip, in the academic's view, is not bad. It's simply talking about someone who isn't present. That talk could be positive, neutral, or negative," explained Megan Robbins, lead researcher of the study.

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According to Robbins, there is a surprising dearth of information about who gossips and how given public interest and opinion on the subject.

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"With that definition, it would be hard to think of a person who never gossips because that would mean the only time they mention someone is in their presence. They could never talk about a celebrity unless the celebrity was present for the conversation; they would only mention any detail about anyone else if they are present. Not only would this be difficult, but it would probably seem strange to people they interact with," Robbins asserted.

As part of the study, the team of researchers looked at data from 467 people -- 269 women, 198 men. Participants were 18 to 58 years old.

Participants wore a portable listening device called the Electronically Activated Recorder, or EAR. The EAR sampled what people said throughout the day. About 10 per cent of their conversation was recorded and analyzed by research assistants.

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The team of researchers counted conversation as gossip if it was about someone, not present. In all, there were 4,003 instances of gossip. They then filtered the gossip into three categories: positive, negative, or neutral.

The assistants further coded the gossip depending on whether it was about a celebrity or acquaintance; the topic; and the gender of the conversation partner.

Following were the findings of the study published in the Journal of BMC Medicine:

1. Younger people engage in more negative gossip than older adults. There was no correlation with the overall frequency of gossip when all three categories were combined.

2. About 14 per cent of participants' conversations were gossip. Almost three-fourths of these gossips were neutral. Negative gossip (604 instances) was twice as prevalent as positive (376).

3. Gossip overwhelmingly was about an acquaintance and not a celebrity, with a comparison of 3,292 samples vs. 369.

4. Extroverts gossip far more frequently than introverts.

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5. Women gossip more than men, but only in neutral, information-sharing, gossip.

6. Poorer, less educated people don't gossip more than wealthier, better-educated people. This runs contrary to assertions found in popular "best habits of the rich" books. (ANI)

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