It is talking about a person who isn’t present. It's not necessarily about spreading malicious rumors or embarrassing stories, just sharing information.
Research indicates that the typical person spends about 52 minutes per day gossiping. But most of it is just sharing information about the people in their lives with those around them.
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Some gossiping has negative consequences for the target or the gossiper, such as if the target finds out, or if listeners conclude that the gossiper is an untrustworthy busybody who can't mind his or her own business.
Gossip doesn’t only teach us about the person who’s the subject of the conversation, but also about the gossiper. When you gossip you tell others things about your attitudes, beliefs, and ways of dealing with people by seeing who and what you gossip about.
When you do join in, gossip can also strengthen your social bonds. It improves a group's cooperation and makes members less selfish, as well as a way of identifying and ostracizing untrustworthy individuals until they learn the lesson.
Gossiping is a fundamental human instinct because our lives are deeply rooted in groups and we depend on the people in our groups to survive.
We need to have as much information as possible about the people around us in order to accurately determine expectations, trustworthiness, viewpoints, and so on.
All humans partake in gossip in some form. Everyone talks about other people. One study found that male participants spent 55% of conversation time and female participants 67% conversation time on socially relevant topics.
People like to think of gossip as the same as malicious rumours, but researchers define gossip as talking about people who aren't present.
Gossiping is a good way of identifying friends and foes. We are either judge, jury or executioner when we gossip — and we use the information we cull to keep immoral influences at arm's length.
Research indicates that people who witnessed immoral behavior feel better after gossiping about it to people who might have been affected. They are helping to spread the news, and therefore raise the possibility that the person in question is punished.
Our prehistoric ancestors lived in small intimate groups. To survive they needed to cooperate with in-group members while also competing for mates and limited resources.
It was fundamental to know who was reliable, trustworthy, a cheater, a good mate and so on. To that end, an intense interest in the private dealings of others was beneficial and favored by natural selection.
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