The pros and cons of gossip

Gossip can bring psychological benefits and have positive outcomes, new research has found. Despite rumour-mongering often being regarded in a negative light, the study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology revealed it can help reduce stress, prevent exploitation and enable bad behaviour to be better policed.

Robb Willer, a Social Psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley - which was founded in 1868 and was home to more than 36,000 students in autumn 2011 - noted there is growing evidence suggesting that such conversations can play a big part in maintaining social order.

Mr Willer stated: "Spreading information about the person whom they had seen behave badly tended to make people feel better, quieting the frustration that drove their gossip."

According to the investigation, this behaviour can also be therapeutic, as a person's heart rate might decrease when they are able to pass on information relating to something troubling them.

Dr Pauline Peyton, Chartered Psychologist, commented: "There is a difference between gossip and colleagues informing each other of a third person's inappropriate behaviour. 

"I believe that by keeping quiet and not telling other people it is unhealthy all around and constitutes colluding with bullying behaviour."