Everybody gossips. That's the probably not-so-surprising information about the nature of gossip found in a new study by researchers at the University of California, Riverside. The probably surprising thing to note? While people gossip almost an hour per day, three-fourths of this behind-your-back talk was found to be neutral, not malicious.
The study, “Who Gossips and How Often in Everyday Life,” which was published earlier this month, also found men and women engage in “tear down” gossip at the same rate, but women were found to gossip more overall.
Researchers found younger people gossiped more negatively than adult.
This study looks at who gossips the most, what they gossip about and how long people gossip. The average time spent gossiping is 52 minutes per day and the subject matter is overwhelmingly neutral.
UC Riverside assistant professor Megan Robbins, who led the study along with graduate student Alexander Karan, said she did it because there is surprisingly little information about who gossips when. Robbins said when you remove the value judgement associated with gossip, it’s just talking about someone who’s not present.
The UC Riverside researchers looked at data from 467 people between 18 and 58 years old who participated in one of five studies.
The participants wore a portable listening device called the Electronically Activated Recorder, or EAR, which provided samples of people conversation which was then analyzed by researchers.
Some other findings include:
- Gossip about an acquaintance far outweigh celebrity gossip.
- Extroverts gossip far more frequently than introverts.
- Poor people gossip about the same amount as wealthy people.
- While women gossip more than men, they do so in a neutral, information-sharing way.
There is also research showing gossip can promote cohesion in groups by mitigating egotistic behavior and facilitating partner selection to solve problems.
The bottom line? Everyone gossips.