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  • Gossip can ruin lives! But could it also improve them?

  • Hey guys, Tara here for DNews, and if sites like Facebook and Twitter have taught us anything, it's that people love to gossip.

  • It's human nature! We've always been taught that's a bad thing, and that we shouldn't do it.

  • But new research shows that may not be the case.

  • A study published this week in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin finds that hearing gossip may actually help us adapt to our social environments,

  • allowing us to self-improve and expose potential threats.

  • For their study, a team of researchers from the Netherlands asked a group of participants to recall an incident where they had received either positive or negative gossip about someone else.

  • Then they were asked to measure how that gossip had affected their levels of self-improvement, self-promotion, and self-protection.

  • What they discovered is that hearing positive gossip tends to lead to self-improvement.

  • In the sense that when we hear something great about someone else, it indirectly suggests ways that we can improve upon ourselves.

  • Makes sense.

  • But what about negative gossip? How does that affect us?

  • Well, according to their findings, negative gossip actually produces a two-fold reaction.

  • On the one hand, it increases our self-promotion because in a weird Schadenfreude kind of way, it can be kind of flattering to know that we're doing better than other people.

  • At the same time though, it also increases our self-protection concerns because it signifies that we could also potentially be affected by whatever negative treatments befell the person we're gossiping about.

  • Obviously, these aren't hard-and-fast guidelines, and people react differently to gossip, depending on their personality,

  • which is why researchers conducted another part to this study where they assigned participants one of two different personalities:

  • a sales agent who uses their knowledge and skills to get ahead,

  • or a sales agent who tramples over others to demonstrate their superiority.

  • In this example, they found that the people who really cared about improving their job performance through knowledge and skills, were more likely to learn from positive gossip,

  • whereas those who trampled over others to get ahead, typically felt threatened when hearing good news about someone else.

  • So, how good of a person you are is clearly a factor here. But there are also differences among genders.

  • Women, for example, tend to be more fearful when they hear negative gossip about someone else because they're afraid that it could happen to them, too.

  • Men, not so much.

  • In fact, men tended to be more fearful of positive gossip because it was seen as a potential threat.

  • No matter how you react, it seems at least one thing is clear: gossip causes everyone to pause and self-reflect,

  • and in some cases, that reflection can and does lead to self-improvement.

  • Speaking of things to be fearful of, I want to let you guys know that we recently shot a TestTube episode about cyberbullying and whether or not that is actually illegal.

  • If you've been on the Internet lately then you know this is a huge hot-button issue,

  • so if you're interested in knowing more about it, I implore you to check out that episode at

  • In the meantime, if you guys have any questions, comments, fun gossip to share as long as it's anonymous,

  • just leave it in the comments below. Otherwise, thanks for watching.

Gossip can ruin lives! But could it also improve them?

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