According to the authors of the new Dartmouth COSAN Lab study, gossip is largely a means of exchanging information with others and forming relationships. It therefore can build trust between people and initiate societal links that becomes stronger the more communication takes place. People therefore can feel increasingly connected and “social” when they gossip, which gives them a sensation of belonging. In this way many people like to gossip.
Given this, people are asking if gossip can be good for your mental health.
Well, gossiping is quite common, with research showing that about 14% (or one in seven) of all our conversation with others consists of what can be considered gossip. Even though it has a largely negative connotation, surprisingly the Dartmouth COSAN lab study shows that conversation considered gossip is largely neutral in tone as opposed to always consisting of negative sniping. It also shows that gossiping sometimes even helps form connections between people and in certain circumstances informs people of things they did not know previously. Because it can make you feel less isolated and more connected, it appears that gossip has the potential to lift your mood and perhaps improve your mental health.
Although the Dartmouth COSAN Lab study shows that there can be upsides to gossiping, it can also be bad for you as well. For example, when gossiping largely consists of consisting of negative sniping, it can make people feel guilty and ashamed of themselves. In addition, when family, friends and even colleagues hear you gossiping about someone and perhaps even tearing them down, it can make them wonder what you may be saying about them. This can make building trusting relationships harder or even impossible, and leave the person gossiping more socially isolated and therefore potentially more depressed and anxious.