Everyone Gossips — For 52 Minutes a Day, to Be Precise
Gossip, say researchers of a new study, is not bad. Based on their definition that described it as talking about someone who isn’t present, they dug deeper to find out who gossips the most, what topics they gossip about and how often they gossip.
First, turns out, on an average, people gossip 52 minutes a day. Although the research did reinforce the stereotype that women gossip more than men do, it showed that the discrepancy was only true when the gossip was neutral or simply to share information; women didn’t engage in tear-down gossip any more than men did.
Contrary to popular belief, lower-income and less-educated people didn’t gossip more than wealthier, more-educated people. Those most likely to gossip were extroverts, and younger people were more likely to gossip negatively than their older counterparts.
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“There is a surprising dearth of information about who gossips and how, given public interest and opinion on the subject,” Megan Robbins, an assistant psychology professor who led the study along with Alexander Karan, a graduate student in her lab at University of California, Riverside, U.S., said to Medical Express.
For the research, Robbins and Karan looked at data from 467 people — 269 women and 198 men between ages 18 and 58. The participants wore a portable listening device, called the Electronically Activated Recorder, or EAR, to sample what people said throughout the day, recording only 10% of their conversation for analysis.
The research assistants counted conversation as gossip if it was about someone not present. They then filtered the gossip into the three categories — positive, negative, or neutral.
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The assistants further coded the gossip depending on whether it was about a celebrity or acquaintance, the topic, and the gender of the conversation partner.
Based on this, it was further revealed that, of the 4,003 instances of gossip recorded, only 14% could qualify as gossip, with three-quarters of it being neutral. Of the remaining, negative gossip was twice as common as positive gossip, and people engaged in gossiping more about an acquaintance than a celebrity.
“Despite variation in frequency, nearly everyone in the study gossiped, supporting the notion that gossip is ubiquitous,” said Robbins.