Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Health & Sex

Font Size

Gossip May Have a Protective Role

Study Suggests Gossiping May Help People Distinguish Friend From Foe

Gossip and Vision

The results show that information gotten through gossip influences vision, according to Bliss-Moreau. "What we know about someone influences not only how we feel and think about them, but also whether or not we see them in the first place," she writes.

"If you hear negative gossip about people at one time, and then you encounter them at a later time, you are more likely to pay attention to their behavior," she says.

If you look at them for a longer time, and observe their behavior, she says, you can then figure out if you need to protect yourself from them or not.

Second Opinion

Linking gossip with our ability to process visual stimuli is a creative research approach, says Moshe Bar, PhD, director of the Harvard Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory.

He reviewed the study findings for WebMD but was not involved in the study.

The study adds to what experts already know about our brain being an ''association machine," he says.

"First, it shows that quick exposure to a complex piece of information [gossip] is sufficient to cause a strong association," Bar says. "We just hear something about someone and it is enough to substantially bias our impression about that someone."

The new research also shows that ''negative associations are strong enough to emerge from outside awareness to affect our thoughts and potentially actions."

Although knowing someone in a picture threw a chair at a classmate "does not pose an immediate threat to us, our brain still does not take chances [and] seems to consider this as worth heightened sensitivity," he tells WebMD.

1|2

Today on WebMD

flowers behind back
Article
Upset woman sitting on bed
Article
 
couple kissing
Article
Exercises for Better Sex
Video
 
Life Cycle of a Penis
Article
HIV Myth Facts
Slideshow
 
How Healthy is Your Sex Life
Quiz
Couple in bed
Video
 
6 Tips For Teens
Article
Close-up of young man
Article
 
screening tests for men
Slideshow
HPV Vaccine Future
Article