A Psychologist Explains Why People Gossip—And The Reason Might Surprise You

Why Do People Gossip?

There’s nothing like juicy gossip. While some people may be appalled at the thought of talebearing, everyone does it. Our conversations are not always about work, family, and life’s dilemmas. Why do people gossip so much? Could there be a psychological component to our need to talk about another person’s business?

A Psychologist Explains Why People Gossip—and the Reason Might Surprise You

What Is Gossiping?

A study was conducted regarding this matter. Shockingly, the average person will spend around 50 minutes each day gossiping. The kicker is that most people don’t realize they do it. They are just sharing information about friends and family as well as their life. Most don’t consider it anything more than friendly chatter. What is gossiping exactly? Well, it’s considered talking about an individual when they aren’t present, whether it be positive or negative.

Gossip isn’t always sharing malicious stories or spreading things told in secret. Sometimes, it’s just sharing mindless information. Stating that your best friend is breaking up with her boyfriend because he is a cheater isn’t malicious per se, but it’s telling her business to a third party. What if you tell other coworkers about seeing the boss at the bar last night? The statement may be factual, but it’s classified as tale packing.

Psychological Roots of Talebearing

Why are people so interested in spending nearly an hour of their day chatting about the lives of other people? It seems that psychology is a big part of routine chitchat. Duke University did a study that showed that humans tend to congregate into groups, and we need each other to survive. They discovered that people gossip because it’s part of human instinct. We must learn as much about those around us for survival. You want to know who you can and cannot trust.

Gossiping For Survival

Some people gossip about things that are essential for you to know. For instance, what if your father told you that your mother was sick, but she didn’t want to tell anyone? You have a right to know, but it’s her story to tell. What if you get a tip on the job that they are about to do a big layoff? The employee that gave you the information was doing you a favor. You have time to prepare and see what’s out there in case you are one of the people that gets cut. Some talebearing is helpful for survival.

Did you know that even back in prehistoric times that people used gossiping for survival? Let’s assume that a person came down with an illness. If this individual had the critical job of gathering food for the group, their illness could affect you and your family. In those times, sickness and disease meant death. When a person told you about these things, they were only looking out for your best interests.

Learning The Behaviors Of Others

You can tell a lot about social behaviors when a person is gossiping. You can learn if they are trustworthy. You don’t want to tell everyone your secrets, especially if they are not a reliable source.  We can’t talk about gossiping and forget about the times when it’s malicious, and people spread unpleasant things about each other. There can be a negative consequence for packing tales. Plus, the person spreading the rumors will be labeled as a busybody that is untrustworthy.

In conclusion, gossip is a normal part of life that is deeply rooted and has psychological stems. However, it’s important that the tales we tell are truthful and not done out of malicious intentions. When used for survival, gossiping is essential.

 
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