Is gossip risky? How the valence of competence information and group membership affect perceptions of gossiper morality

Nguyen, Lily (2015). Is gossip risky? How the valence of competence information and group membership affect perceptions of gossiper morality Honours Thesis, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland.

       
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Author Nguyen, Lily
Thesis Title Is gossip risky? How the valence of competence information and group membership affect perceptions of gossiper morality
School, Centre or Institute School of Psychology
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2015-10-07
Thesis type Honours Thesis
Supervisor Kim Peters
Total pages 87
Language eng
Subjects 1701 Psychology
Formatted abstract
Sharing incompetence gossip (information about a social target) has been shown to involve a dilemma. On one hand, gossip is useful and may be socially good for the group. However, gossiping negatively about a target’s incompetence leads to negative evaluations of the gossiper’s morality. The current research aimed to address this dilemma by investigating whether there were conditions under which incompetence gossip could be shared without risks. It has been suggested that negative evaluations of the gossiper’s morality are due to the audience’s perception that gossipers who share competence information rather than incompetence information about a target are concerned for the target’s wellbeing. If this is the case, it was hypothesised that gossipers would only be evaluated negatively when the audience is concerned for the target’s wellbeing, for instance when the target is an ingroup member. When the audience is not concerned for the target’s wellbeing, for instance when they are an outgroup member then gossipers would not be evaluated negatively. Australian participants were presented with one of four pre-recorded gossip items. The gossip varied in terms of the target’s competence (i.e., the target was described as competent or incompetent) and the target’s group membership (i.e., a member of the ingroup or the outgroup). As predicted, participants perceived gossipers to be more moral when they shared competent rather than incompetent gossip about the ingroup target. Sharing competent or incompetent gossip about the outgroup target did not impact perceptions of gossiper morality. Importantly, gossipers were perceived as more moral when they shared competent gossip about the ingroup target because the audience perceived that these gossipers were concerned for the target’s wellbeing. Practical implications of these findings are discussed and directions for future studies are suggested.  
Keyword Gossip
Morality

 
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Created: Thu, 17 Mar 2016, 15:00:59 EST by Lisa Perry on behalf of School of Psychology