Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Gossip is good--pass it on

Today's New York Times has a big article on gossip--a rather scholarly piece in the Science Times. It includes the latest findings, like this:
"There has been a tendency to denigrate gossip as sloppy and unreliable" and unworthy of serious study, said David Sloan Wilson, a professor of biology and anthropology at the State University of New York at Binghamton and the author of "Darwin's Cathedral," a book on evolution and group behavior. "But gossip appears to be a very sophisticated, multifunctional interaction which is important in policing behaviors in a group and defining group membership."
Perhaps my readers will agree that this news has been making the rounds for a while? In any case, I did also love this quote:
Given this protective group function, gossiping too little may be at least as risky as gossiping too much, some psychologists say. After all, scuttlebutt is the most highly valued social currency there is. While humor and story telling can warm any occasion, a good scoop spreads through a room like an illicit and irresistible drug, passed along in nods and crooked smiles, in discreet walks out to the balcony, the corridor, the powder room.
To delve deeper, see this APA article. Also, if you hear any scuttlebutt on "Gossip in Organizations" from Computational & Mathematical Organizational Theory, pass it on!

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