Your Brain is a Jerk: Gossip is Good For You
Most folks would say that gossip is mean and only spreads rumors. But what if we told you that humans are actually made to gossip? The pre-frontal cortex in your brain controls 'social cognition', or our ability to regulate our thoughts and behavior based on presence of other people.
And when we gossip, positively or negatively, that part of our brain gets very active. Aka: we like it. It feels good. But why would your jerk brain do that?
Some scientists say it's a biological survival tactic. Gossiping helps everyone know who to stay away from, and who to stick around. Do it for the greater good! Plus, before mail, phones, and the internet, gossip was the best way to spread information to a lot of folks: fast.
And others suggest it's an effective way of bonding. When you gossip about someone, you and the other gossiper forge a bond: you two are in, and the person you're talking about is an outsider.
But not all gossip is bad. Studies show our brains' reward system is even more active when we hear positive gossip about ourselves.
This could help encourage behavior that is perceived as "good".
There are physical perks, too. Gossip can be soothing.
If you hear something stressful about someone through the grapevine, talking about it literally helps you calm down.
Like most things, gossip is probably best in moderation. So don't be too hard on yourself the next time you find yourself doin' it.

Artwork by Caroline Quach

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