Familiarity with interest breeds gossip: contributions of emotion, expectation, and reputation

Yao, B., Scott, G. G., McAleer, P. , O'Donnell, P. J. and Sereno, S. C. (2014) Familiarity with interest breeds gossip: contributions of emotion, expectation, and reputation. PLoS ONE, 9(8), e104916. (doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0104916) (PMID:25119267) (PMCID:PMC4132070)

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Abstract

Although gossip serves several important social functions, it has relatively infrequently been the topic of systematic investigation. In two experiments, we advance a cognitive-informational approach to gossip. Specifically, we sought to determine which informational components engender gossip. In Experiment 1, participants read brief passages about other people and indicated their likelihood to share this information. We manipulated target familiarity (celebrity, non-celebrity) and story interest (interesting, boring). While participants were more likely to gossip about celebrity than non-celebrity targets and interesting than boring stories, they were even more likely to gossip about celebrity targets embedded within interesting stories. In Experiment 2, we additionally probed participants' reactions to the stories concerning emotion, expectation, and reputation information conveyed. Analyses showed that while such information partially mediated target familiarity and story interest effects, only expectation and reputation accounted for the interactive pattern of gossip behavior. Our findings provide novel insights into the essential components and processing mechanisms of gossip.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Sereno, Dr Sara and Yao, Mr Bo and O'Donnell, Professor Patrick and McAleer, Dr Philip and Scott, Mr Graham
Authors: Yao, B., Scott, G. G., McAleer, P., O'Donnell, P. J., and Sereno, S. C.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology
College of Science and Engineering > School of Psychology
Journal Name:PLoS ONE
Publisher:Public Library of Science
ISSN:1932-6203
ISSN (Online):1932-6203
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2014 The Authors
First Published:First published in PLoS One 9(8):e104916
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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