Gossip: the nature and curse of humans


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“A central reason for engaging in gossip was to help others out — more so than just to talk trash about the selfish individual,” said Matthew Feinberg, a UC Berkeley social psychologist, as reported by the UC Berkeley Newsroom.

The study concluded that gossip can be therapeutic by relieving anxiety.

Despite the good intentions that people may have in similar situations, gossipers must be cautious to avoid the spread of hurtful rumors.

Samuel Clay, psychology department chair, explained that humans think and make decisions in two different ways: controlled and automatic processing.

“Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman discusses this dual processing in his book, ‘Thinking, Fast and Slow,’ where he describes controlled processing as the deliberate, effortful, deep kinds of processing; which is contrasted with automatic processing which is more spontaneous, intuitive, and quick by nature,” Clay said

Clay explained that people often gossip automatically because of their desire to connect with other people. Clay recommended that students and teachers alike engage themselves in the controlled process to be able to avoid gossip.

Clay said he believes when people engage in the controlled process, social interactions become less about the gossip and more about building one another .

“Instead of gossiping, we should engage in controlled processing to ensure that what we share about others, with others, will improve relationships with others across the board,” Clay said.

'Gossip: the nature and curse of humans' have 3 comments

  1. May 9, 2013 @ 2:33 pm J-mad

    This article is great! I was also gossiped about a lot and it is hurtful for all parties involved.


  2. May 9, 2013 @ 11:52 pm scott

    The concept of automatic processing was interesting to me. I believe that it is very common for people to spread rumors, not primarily with intent to hurt someone, but simply to try and carry a conversation with someone. A lot of damage could be averted if we were to make just that small change in our social behavior.


  3. May 10, 2013 @ 12:58 am Tony Brady

    I really enjoyed this article. I don’t know why people have to gossip about other people. It is hurtful.


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