August 19, 2005


Recent research has investigated gossip, talking about somebody when they aren't present. Gossip can account for about a third of conversatons at most workplaces, and turns out to play a vital role in the behaviour of groups. In one study people were asked to consider a rancher whose neighbor had not maintained his fence, allowing the cattle to wander and freeload. Men in particular said that the rancher had a duty to let everyone know about the troublesome neighbor. Another study examined rowing crews at the University of Wisconsin. When one of the teammates showed up late for practice and didn't pull his load, the rest of the crew first gossiped, and then started picking on the deadbeat oarsman. After this person left, conversations returned to normal.

According to the Encyclop?dia Brittanica, gossip is a recognized purpose of the Tibetan lamasery:

Apart from the ubiquitous redemptory, spiritual, and social goals of monastic systems, most of them condone peripheral goals of more or less mundane types. Thus, a Tibetan lamasery is not only a centre of spiritual counsel but also a bank, a judicial court, a school, and a gossip centre for the laity.

The barbershops of ancient Greece and Rome were centers for the exchange of gossip and opinion.


At August 19, 2005 6:09 PM , Anonymous Andrea said...

I haven't been to your blog for awhile - sorry!

I learned to value gossip (in some situations) when a co-worker had a miscarriage several years ago. She asked us to spread the word before she returned - saved lots of awkward moments.

At August 20, 2005 7:23 AM , Blogger Matt_J said...

Hey Andrea! Welcome back.


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