Love To Gossip? Here’s One Very Big Reason You No Longer Need To Feel Guilty About It
It's been made official: gossiping is good for you. Here's why.
Have you ever felt that pang of guilt when you’ve just had an hour long bitching sesh about someone? Well, according to an evolutionary psychologist, you needn’t feel so guilty: getting in a regular gossip sesh won’t only win you friends, it could also help you live longer.
Gossip is what makes us human.
Robin Dunbar, professor of evolutionary psychology at Oxford University, has eased our conscience in a major way. “Gossiping is just chatting with people and keeping up to date with the social world in which you live,” he explains. “So gossip is what makes us human.”
Reckon that’s deadly news? It gets better: Dr Jennifer Cole, a psychology lecturer at Manchester University reckons that gossiping actually makes us more likable. “We know we’re violating someone else’s privacy and it breaks social rules about politeness,” she explains.
Here’s the kicker: preventing yourself from bitching might not be doing the positive job you think it is. “If people don’t gossip at all we don’t like them, we’re suspicious. What we prefer is people gossip a little bit,” Dr Cole says.
Your social network has a huge effect on happiness and well-being.
So, crucially, it’s being likeable that has the biggest effect on our health, and in turn our life span. “The most important thing that will prevent you dying is the size of the social network,” explains Robin. “That has a bigger effect than anything – except giving up cigarettes. Your social network has a huge effect on happiness and well-being.” Getting – and keeping – a large social network is dependent on walking that fine gossip line.
So, what’s the moral? Next time you’re having a natter about the latest scandal, you can do so in the knowledge that it’s actually good for your health. But don’t unleash your inner Regina George just yet, because just like anything else, it turns out that gossip is only good for you in moderation.
By Laura Somers.
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