Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Threat of gossip can rein in selfishness, study finds

Date:
July 12, 2011
Source:
SAGE Publications
Summary:
Gossip can be hurtful, unproductive, and mean. It can also be an important part of making sure that people will share and cooperate, according to a new study.

Gossip can be hurtful, unproductive, and mean. It can also be an important part of making sure that people will share and cooperate, according to a study in the current Social Psychological and Personality Science (published by SAGE).

Researchers Bianca Beersma and Gerben Van Kleef of the University of Amsterdam set out to test whether the threat of gossip could suppress selfish behavior. To do so, they brought people into the lab, and convinced them that they were part of a group that would interact first through computers and then face-to-face.

People were told they had been randomly chosen to distribute 100 tickets for a cash-prize lottery. With the task, people could be generous and distribute the tickets to group members, or they could be selfish, and keep a large share of the tickets for themselves.

Half of the time, the person was told that the choice would be kept private -- none of the other group members would know how many tickets went into their personal account. The rest of the time, people expected that their group members would know exactly how many tickets they kept for themselves.

Sometimes the participants were told that other group members were prone to, and sometimes they were told the other group members were quite unlikely to gossip.

Beersma and Van Kleef wanted to know just how generous people would be, and so they had people actually dole out the tickets, and compared how selfish or generous people would be when they faced the prospect of their decisions being the topic of gossip.

In every condition, people acted selfishly to some degree -- most people kept more than an equal share for themselves. But when their actions were public and the chance for gossip was high, people became substantially less selfish. When people knew that their selfishness would be on display -- and very likely to be talked about -- they acted most generously to others.

"When the threat of gossip exists, group members can expect that they will be talked about if they decide to take a free ride" wrote the authors. Gossip can be malicious and harmful to groups, but it can have a positive side -- the threat of gossip can increase fairness and hold selfishness in check.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by SAGE Publications. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. B. Beersma, G. A. Van Kleef. How the Grapevine Keeps You in Line: Gossip Increases Contributions to the Group. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 2011; DOI: 10.1177/1948550611405073

Cite This Page:

SAGE Publications. "Threat of gossip can rein in selfishness, study finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 July 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110712094207.htm>.
SAGE Publications. (2011, July 12). Threat of gossip can rein in selfishness, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110712094207.htm
SAGE Publications. "Threat of gossip can rein in selfishness, study finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110712094207.htm (accessed August 29, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Friday, August 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Treadmill 'trips' May Reduce Falls for Elderly

Treadmill 'trips' May Reduce Falls for Elderly

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) Scientists are tripping the elderly on purpose in a Chicago lab in an effort to better prevent seniors from falling and injuring themselves in real life. (Aug.28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) It’s an unusual condition with a colorful name. Kids with “Alice in Wonderland” syndrome see sudden distortions in objects they’re looking at or their own bodies appear to change size, a lot like the main character in the Lewis Carroll story. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stopping Schizophrenia Before Birth

Stopping Schizophrenia Before Birth

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) Scientists have long called choline a “brain booster” essential for human development. Not only does it aid in memory and learning, researchers now believe choline could help prevent mental illness. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Personalized Brain Vaccine for Glioblastoma

Personalized Brain Vaccine for Glioblastoma

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) Glioblastoma is the most common and aggressive brain cancer in humans. Now a new treatment using the patient’s own tumor could help slow down its progression and help patients live longer. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins