The world of gossip it’s not just something that sticks to the teleporter; it is deeply rooted in our lives, even when we believe we are not participating in it.
In fact, rumors and gossip are phenomena that have been widely studied by social psychology for decades, and many researchers have set out to analyze how they originate, how they spread, and what effects they have.
Of course, there are people who are more likely than others to fall into the temptation to always seek out personal information and disseminate it; we do not all act the same. But … What makes so many people gossip?
A basic mechanism of socialization
There are researchers who attach great importance to gossip, being the basis of our first forms of socialization.
For example, psychologist and biologist Robin Dunbar developed a theory which places gossip at the beginning of human language use tens of thousands of years ago. For him, chatter was the evolution of the ritual that our ancestors followed to wash and deworm each other’s skin. If this activity served to strengthen social ties, with the advent of language this custom turned into an exchange of information in a confidential context, which served to socialize and better understand what was happening in the tribe.
One way or another, the existence of gossip has allowed the use of language to continue to develop, which has allowed the emergence of complex and large societies.
So listen and pass on the gossip it was used to learn through simple stories the social norms of a group, the status of each individual and even the opportunities: do you have positive relationships with certain people? Is anyone looking for a partner? etc.
Thus, gossip, in the end, is fond of a style of transmitting information that could have its origin in the birth of language, and therefore continues to use it today in a context where the tribe has disappeared. and the number of people of the interesting gossip that can be drawn are much higher.
Eliminate the uncertainty
But gossip also has its reason in the social phenomena that are happening today, regardless of what happened long ago. In fact, the world of gossip is a response to a basic psychological need: eliminate as much uncertainty as possible, Especially if it’s something that grabs our attention and that we keep in mind relatively often.
Our brain is not designed to know everything, but it is more than competent to select the information that interests us and to accumulate data on that particular subject.
When we feel that there are answers that elude us, we feel bad, because the information we have is insufficient and, if we consider it important, we will try to complete it to restore this cognitive balance what we had before. This is what happens, for example, with cognitive dissonance, which appears when we realize that our mental patterns don’t mesh well with the new information coming to us.
For example, someone who is a fan of a singer may react strongly to rumors that that person is using drugs if they feel that the behavior is not the idea of a respectable person. This may cause you to try to investigate the topic further to change your ideas. in the least unpleasant way possible and make sure that this new information fits well into their cognitive patterns (for example, concluding that there is not enough evidence to consider the rumor to be true, or blaming another person in the singer’s circle of friends).
Beyond the fan phenomenon
But … what happens when the gossip is about someone we don’t even respect or even idolize? In these cases, the uncertainty elimination mechanism continues to work, causing us to take an interest in the lives of people who somehow, we would say, have no interest in us at all.
For example, cardiac programs are characterized by an emphasis on expose the details of a person’s lifes with which we do not sympathize. The trick here is that just repeated exposure to information about a particular person makes them more important to us whether we like it or not.
Somehow the brain gets used to reactivating memories related to this public (or not so public) figure, so we’ll start to think about it more often and therefore we’ll be more relevant. are revealed.
So even people who are not characterized by the idolatry of certain popular culture icons are prone to gossip, even if they sometimes do not admit it.
Is it useful to chat?
The very concept of gossip this usually goes hand in hand with the idea that this is information that is not relevant for practical purposesAnd often this is accomplished precisely because we know about the existence of people we only know through the media. At other times, however, gossip can be useful from an individual interest standpoint, although the kind of opportunity offered by knowing this information is frowned upon and, therefore, contributes to gossip in general. not enjoying a good reputation either.
Ultimately, determining whether or not gossip is useful depends on each case and the type of ethical scale on which it is based.
Gossip is a component of socialization that probably originated in small communities and which, over the millennia, they have been adapted to overcrowded societies.
If there are so many people inclined to hear rumors, it is precisely because they are there by a basic psychological principle: capture information about topics we usually think aboutEither because we find it reasonable to take them into account for profit, or because marketing and propaganda campaigns have made us think a lot about certain people even though it does not give us a clear material benefit.