Research Topic

Why People Gossip and What It Brings About: Motives For, and Consequences Of, Informal Evaluative Information Exchange

About this Research Topic

Gossip, informal evaluative talk about absent third parties, is frowned upon, and often even condemned, in cultures around the world. At the same time, it is a basic human tendency: people gossip about friends, relatives, coworkers, and celebrities with great appetite. In evolutionary psychology, it has even ...

Gossip, informal evaluative talk about absent third parties, is frowned upon, and often even condemned, in cultures around the world. At the same time, it is a basic human tendency: people gossip about friends, relatives, coworkers, and celebrities with great appetite. In evolutionary psychology, it has even been argued that language evolved to enable us to exchange information about others.

But why do people gossip and with what consequences? Thus far, research has, for example, shown that people were motivated to engage in gossip to bond with their group members, to entertain themselves, to exchange information, to vent emotions, and to maintain social order. These motives can be argued to be quite harmless, and even based on constructive tendencies. Interestingly, though, gossip may also be motivated by the desire to aggress and to advance one's personal interests at the cost of others.
Moving from motives to consequences of gossip; on the positive side, research has shown that gossip enables cooperation and increases norm adherence. Nevertheless, on the dark side, gossip has been related to bullying and power struggles in organizations. Besides, the phenomenon of so-called “hate speech” in the social media has become prominent in public debates and calls for more insights into such consequences.

The divergent insights regarding the motives for, and consequences of, gossip, make it a fascinating type of behavior and a challenging research topic. Our goal is to provide a forum to discuss new ideas and insights related to motives for, and consequences of, gossip across various fields in psychology. We aim to increase understanding of when and why people gossip, and how this affects them and their social environment. As such, the papers published within this Research Topic will further increase our comprehension of the meaning and functionality of gossip.

The proposed Research Topic welcomes manuscripts that develop theory, or report empirical studies, on topics including but not limited to:
- Moral and ethical predictors / consequences of gossip
- Relational predictors / consequences of gossip
- Individual differences as predictors of gossip
- Contextual predictors / consequences of gossip, e.g. communication channels as moderators of gossip quantity and/or content (gossiping face-to-face versus gossiping in social media)
- Motives and/or consequences of gossip in virtual (online) settings
- Bright and dark sides of gossip for gossip senders, recipients, or victims, and/or the surrounding social context (e.g. group, organization)
- Cultural perspectives on gossip

Papers should make an original contribution to the field of gossip research, demonstrate rigor in terms of methodology employed and underlying theoretical and conceptual frameworks, and must be relevant to an international audience. Reviews should be based on up-to-date literature and include recommendations for future research directions, whereas empirical studies should clearly describe the underlying theoretical and conceptual framework and methodologies should be clearly, but concisely, presented.


Keywords: Gossip, hate speech, groups, virtuality, social media


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

23 November 2018 Manuscript
20 January 2019 Manuscript Extension

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

23 November 2018 Manuscript
20 January 2019 Manuscript Extension

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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