by Temitope Onitiju
According to a new study, the act of gossiping is considered good for the human self-esteem because it allows us to compare ourselves with others.
A group of Dutch researchers have discovered that hearing positive and negative gossip about another person boosts self-reflection and self-evaluation.
Professor Elena Martinescu at the University of Groningen, said: “Women who receive negative gossip experience higher self-protection concerns possibly because they believe they might experience a similar fate as the person being the target of the gossip. Men who receive positive gossip experience higher fear, perhaps because upward social comparisons with competitors are threatening.”
The study, which was published in ‘Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin’, set out to explore why gossip was so pervasive in society and why people wanted to know about others’ achievements and failures.
Martinescu said, “For example, hearing positive stories about others may be informative, because they suggest ways to improve oneself. Hearing negative gossip may be flattering, because it suggests that others may function less well than we do.”
“However, negative gossip may also be threatening to the self, because it suggests a malign social environment in which one may easily fall victim to negative treatments.”
Martinescu added that gossip provides individuals with indirect social comparison information and provides an essential resource to reflect on their behavior, suggesting that suggested that instead of trying to block out gossip, “humans should accept it as a natural part of their lives and receive it with a critical attitude regarding the consequences it may have on ourselves and on others.”