We all love a good gossip (anyone who says they don’t is lying) and now we have even more of a reason to share the juicy stuff: It’s good for us.
Loose lips may sink ships, but they may also trigger a wide range of physical and psychological effects.
A study from the University of Pavia in Italy analyzed the effects of gossip on 22 women after the lead author Dr. Natascia Brondino noticed she felt closer to her female colleagues after they gossiped. This prompted her to study the effects of gossiping on the brain, and the results were clear-cut. The women’s brains released more oxytocin (commonly called the “love hormone” or “cuddle chemical,”) after gossiping compared to an ordinary conversation about, say, the exorbitant cost of takeaway coffee.
Oxytocin is produced by women during labor to help them bond with her babies, and is also released during sex and other loving touches, such as petting an animal and hugging a soft toy. In terms of friendship, oxytocin helps establish group rules and develop and strengthen social bonds — basically, it brings people closer together.
Only women took part in the study (not because men don’t like to gossip, because we all know that’s not true) because Brondino didn’t want sexual attraction (which also releases the hormone) to interfere with the results. (Which, of course, doesn’t take into account women who are attracted to other women.)
Additionally, the study found that the effect of gossip isn’t affected by the person’s personality: “Psychological characteristics, e.g. empathy, autistic traits, perceived stress, envy, did not affect oxytocin rise in the gossip condition.”
So don’t feel guilty about that daily watercooler gossip sesh — it’s good for you.