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Gossip protects us from the slackers in the group

Posted by on Dec. 27, 2012 at 10:11 PM
  • 44 Replies

Gossip protects us from the slackers in the group

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Gossip usually gets a bad rap, but a new study suggests it can do some good: It might discourage some of us from slacking off. 

The study reveals that the good form of gossip can protect a group from individuals looking for a free ride, which can be a good thing for co-workers on a project team, students in a study group, or parents serving on a school committee, to name a few.

We tend to think of gossip as the nasty rumors spread behind someone's back or what busybodies blabber about for lack of anything better to say. But it can be more than that, says study author Bianca Beersma, PhD, an associate professor in the department of work and organizational psychology at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. "Gossip is not merely a trivial activity, nor is it always detrimental to group functioning," says Beersma says. "It can serve neutral and even positive functions for groups."

In one experiment, published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 221 college students completed a questionnaire rating people's main motives for gossiping.

They found that exchanging and validating information was the most important reason to instigate gossip. Students also rated its negative influence as the least important reason to gossip, and its social enjoyment and group protection ranked second and third, respectively.

As a result, Beersma suggests that malicious gossip may be a relatively infrequent type, but its consequences may be disproportionately large -- such as when gossip is part of bullying someone for a long period of time. 

In another experiment, the same college students read a situation describing an employee who was not doing their fair share at work. Study participants were then told to imagine they ran into a friend or a co-worker at a bus stop after leaving their job and asked whether they would gossip about the annoying slacker at work.

Researchers found people were more likely to gossip about a co-worker who was slacking off to another colleague, and the main reason was to protect other group members from this norm-violating behavior. 

For example, it's always tempting for some individuals to slack off in a group project, contribute little, and let others do the work. But the study found that one of the motives to gossip was to warn other group members about someone who was looking for a free ride who could hurt the rest of the group's overall performance. 

"Our study clearly shows that there is more to gossip than just the malicious aspect," says Beersma. "We are in need of a more nuanced view of gossip to enable organizations to benefit from its positive aspects."

But when it comes to workplace gossip, Beersma says the biggest challenge for an organization and its employees is to distinguish between positive, group-protecting gossip and the malicious, self-interested kind. 

 

Naughty Wittle Puppy

by on Dec. 27, 2012 at 10:11 PM
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Replies (1-10):
NWP
by guerrilla girl on Dec. 27, 2012 at 10:11 PM

Heard any good gossip lately?

ausomezombie2.0
by Member on Dec. 27, 2012 at 10:13 PM
Makes sense. Good article
Posted on the NEW CafeMom Mobile
toomanypoodles
by Ruby Member on Dec. 28, 2012 at 1:20 AM
4 moms liked this

 Did those women get together at JoAnne and pick the same pattern and each an ugly fabric so they'd have matching dresses?  Sorry, first thing I noticed. 

Now I'll move on to the article. 

NWP
by guerrilla girl on Dec. 28, 2012 at 8:58 AM
2 moms liked this

Hahahaaaa! Poodles, you can play this game very well. And it does have its benefits, as the article stated.

LOL...yes, I think the dresses are ugly too and I bet you are right about the sale at JoAnne. Hahahaaaa.

Why are they drinking champaign at work?

Quoting toomanypoodles:

 Did those women get together at JoAnne and pick the same pattern and each an ugly fabric so they'd have matching dresses?  Sorry, first thing I noticed. 

Now I'll move on to the article. 


Naughty Wittle Puppy

radioheid
by Libertarian on Dec. 28, 2012 at 9:07 AM
3 moms liked this

 Weak.

I was always taught that when you have a problem with someone, you approach that person directly, unless the circumstances dictate taking the matter to management. Gossip does absolutely no good, period. It does not "protect" anyone. All you have is a bunch of people sitting around bitching and griping about someone when they could be speaking to that person and getting to the meat of the matter. And everyone feels like shit when they find out folks were talking about them behind their back. I've rarely met people who slacked off just for the hell of it. There is usually an underlying issue, and shit-talking absolutely will not help that matter, nor "productivity".


"Roger that. Over."

R   A   D    I    O    H    E    I    D

Billiejeens
by Gold Member on Dec. 28, 2012 at 9:18 AM
2 moms liked this

Because they are gossip mongering, fugly dress wearing, slacker alcoholics that can't be fired because they are union?

Quoting NWP:

Hahahaaaa! Poodles, you can play this game very well. And it does have its benefits, as the article stated.

LOL...yes, I think the dresses are ugly too and I bet you are right about the sale at JoAnne. Hahahaaaa.

Why are they drinking champaign at work?

Quoting toomanypoodles:

 Did those women get together at JoAnne and pick the same pattern and each an ugly fabric so they'd have matching dresses?  Sorry, first thing I noticed. 

Now I'll move on to the article. 


 

sweet-a-kins
by Emerald Member on Dec. 28, 2012 at 9:19 AM

 In other words

my haters motivate me...

lol

Clairwil
by Ruby Member on Dec. 28, 2012 at 1:50 PM
1 mom liked this
Quoting NWP:

main reason was to protect other group members from this norm-violating behavior. 

Not just slacking.

Any norm-violating behaviour, such as the person who has wandering fingers that you don't want to accept a lift home from.

One theory of brain evolution is that the need to keep track of social favours owed was a major driver.

.Bubbles.
by Silver Member on Dec. 28, 2012 at 3:57 PM
1 mom liked this

Drinking at work.  I guess they will be the target of the next round of office gossip.

Quoting NWP:

Hahahaaaa! Poodles, you can play this game very well. And it does have its benefits, as the article stated.

LOL...yes, I think the dresses are ugly too and I bet you are right about the sale at JoAnne. Hahahaaaa.

Why are they drinking champaign at work?

Quoting toomanypoodles:

 Did those women get together at JoAnne and pick the same pattern and each an ugly fabric so they'd have matching dresses?  Sorry, first thing I noticed. 

Now I'll move on to the article. 



NWP
by guerrilla girl on Dec. 28, 2012 at 4:10 PM
1 mom liked this

I would agree with you in a perfect world. In fact, I used to agree with you completely....but IRL the work place is often a hierarchical setting that has a system for weeding out those not "on the bus".

Maybe it is the word "gossip" that is throwing a lot of folks off...as the article stated, there is constructive sharing and destructive sharing. The former can create a more cohesive and productive work place. The latter should be avoided at all cost. IMO the folks who participate too heavily in the latter usually get ousted by those who do the former.

Quoting radioheid:

 Weak.

I was always taught that when you have a problem with someone, you approach that person directly, unless the circumstances dictate taking the matter to management. Gossip does absolutely no good, period. It does not "protect" anyone. All you have is a bunch of people sitting around bitching and griping about someone when they could be speaking to that person and getting to the meat of the matter. And everyone feels like shit when they find out folks were talking about them behind their back. I've rarely met people who slacked off just for the hell of it. There is usually an underlying issue, and shit-talking absolutely will not help that matter, nor "productivity".


Naughty Wittle Puppy

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