If You Have Nothing Nice to Say, Come Sit Next to Me: Audience Perceptions of Gossipers as a Function of Gossip Content

Austin, Kacie (2014). If You Have Nothing Nice to Say, Come Sit Next to Me: Audience Perceptions of Gossipers as a Function of Gossip Content Honours Thesis, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland.

       
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Author Austin, Kacie
Thesis Title If You Have Nothing Nice to Say, Come Sit Next to Me: Audience Perceptions of Gossipers as a Function of Gossip Content
School, Centre or Institute School of Psychology
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2014-10-08
Thesis type Honours Thesis
Supervisor Kim Peters
Total pages 75
Language eng
Subjects 1701 Psychology
Abstract/Summary Despite humans propensity to gossip, little research has been conducted on how engaging in gossip can affect our reputation. The present research aims to help fill this gap. Research suggests that because morality information can be used functionally, to better regulate social relationships and convey norms, morality gossip should be seen as more useful than neutral gossip. Thus we propose that gossipers who share this information will be perceived as helping their audience and as a result morality gossip (negative or positive) will result in higher ratings of gossiper morality than neutral gossip. Additionally, as high status individuals potentially have an increased ability to influence our lives we hypothesize that gossip about high status individuals will be seen as more useful and result in more positive ratings of gossiper morality than gossip about low status targets. In total, six additional experimental hypotheses were also proposed with regards to gossip functions. To test hypotheses first year psychology students (N = 130) were played a pre-recorded gossip piece from one of six between-subjects conditions. Participants then responded to a questionnaire regarding their perceptions of the gossiper, gossip and person in the gossip. Mixed support was found for the focal hypotheses. Specifically, it was found that gossipers who shared information about immoral individuals were seen as more moral than those who gossiped about neutral individuals. However, no significant difference was found between moral and neutral or moral and immoral target conditions. Moreover, results demonstrated no significant difference between ratings of gossiper morality in high and low status target conditions. Findings suggest gossipers who share morality gossip are rated as more moral due to the capacity of their gossip to convey social norms. Overall results suggest support for gossip as a moral social action, however further research is required before definitive conclusions can be drawn.
Keyword Applied psychology
Gossip
Reputation

 
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Created: Thu, 28 May 2015, 09:22:56 EST by Louise Grainger on behalf of School of Psychology