Dartmouth College researchers found that gossiping might not deserve the bad reputation it has received. It’s not all about rumors and saying negative things about others. In fact, they found that it might actually help people to learn things about the world that they haven’t through their own personal experiences.
For the study, an online game was created where participants were given $10 they could either keep or invest in a group fund with the rest of the players. If they chose to share, the money would then be multiplied and split between all the members of the study. According to StudyFinds.com, this experiment can be classified a “public good game,” meaning it will create tension between players and force them to cooperate with each other. The game lasted 10 rounds total, trying to separate those who were playing selfish from the cooperative players.
The experiment limited the information the players had about each other. Through private messages players could speak to their teammates and talk about their strategies. Researchers found that when players had little to no information about someone else in the group, “more spontaneous conversation started.” If players knew what everyone else was doing during a round in the game they talked about “more neutral topics.”
Group members had to rely on second hand information from other players in order to be successful. Researchers believe this means when we gossip we learn from other people’s experiences. Authors added that players that were able to private message each other had a stronger bond once the game was finished.