It varies from person to person, but a 2019 study published in the journal of Social Psychological and Personality Science found we gossip – on average – for 52 minutes per day.

Gossip has a negative reputation for being unkind or frivolous, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way. There are plenty of benefits to gossip – but also much to be careful of… 

What is gossip?

Chartered psychologist and author of The Leader’s Guide To Resilience Dr Audrey Tang describes gossip as “talking about somebody else who is not present at the time” – something “you’re not prepared to say to the person who’s not present”. While gossip has a nasty reputation, it’s not all bad – the 2019 study actually found the majority of gossip is neutral.

It also tends to be more associated with women, but the study found this isn’t necessarily the case – women tend to engage in more neutral gossip than men. Tang says “there’s very likely to be an element of sexism” to these stereotypes, while also putting this reputation down to women being broadly more open to communication than men. 

“It’s our way of expressing ourselves,” she says, whereas “that’s not a style that is necessarily natural to how men communicate”.

Ultimately, people who love to gossip tend to be more extroverted.

Why do we love it so much?

Humans are naturally social beings, and gossip is a way of bringing people together and sharing stories. Tang says: “If you think back to things like fairy tales and even stained glass windows, they all told us a story, they all told us a piece of information that was useful to be passed on to other people. And so gossip can actually be a form of teaching other people – even if it is negative, it never hurts to be warned about somebody who is a little bit dodgy.” Knowledge is power, and that’s often what gossip can arm you with.

Letting someone in on a secret can be a show of trust, but it can also be a double-edged sword

On a less positive note, gossiping can help you avoid your own troubles. Tang mentions …….


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