Many people regard gossip as idle chatter that can harm people’s reputations, but it may have some benefits, such as reducing stress, discouraging bad behavior and preventing exploitation.
That’s the finding of a University of California, Berkeley study that included four experiments involving hundreds of volunteers.
"Gossip gets a bad rap, but we’re finding evidence that it plays a critical role in the maintenance of social order," study co-author and social psychologist Robb Willer said in a university news release.
He and his colleagues also found that gossip can be therapeutic. Study participants’ heart rates rose when they saw someone behaving badly, but the increase was moderated when they were able to tell others about what they had witnessed.
"Spreading information about the person whom they had seen behave badly tended to make people feel better, quieting the frustration that drove their gossip," Willer explained.
"We shouldn’t feel guilty for gossiping if the gossip helps prevent others from being taken advantage of," lead author and social psychologist Matthew Feinberg said in the news release.
◎ idle：形容詞，無目的的；無益的；無聊的。例句：It would be idle to try to make him change his mind.（想使他改變主意是徒勞的。）
◎ bad rap：俚語，口碑差；不公的指控或懲罰。例句：He had a bad rap, but he’s actually very nice in person.（他的口碑很不好，但他的為人其實是很好的。）