Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles 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 youtube.com/testtubenetwork. 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.