Gossipers feel more supported and positive gossip — praising somebody — may lead to a short-term boost in gossipers’ self-esteem.
These are the findings of research conducted by Dr. Jennifer Cole and Hannah Scrivener from Staffordshire University, who present their preliminary findings at the British Psychological Society Social Psychology Section annual conference at the University of Winchester.
To ascertain the consequences of gossiping on the gossiper 160 participants completed questionnaires relating to their tendency to gossip and measures of their self-esteem, social support and satisfaction with life.
Although not associated with self-esteem or life satisfaction, higher levels of gossiping were associated with feelings of greater social support. In a follow-up study, 140 participants were asked to talk about a fictional person positively or negatively. Those who described the fictional character positively felt greater self-esteem than those asked to talk about them negatively.
Dr. Cole said: “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.”