July 25, 2007 at 2:21 PM ET
Would you believe me if I told you that gossip can actually be good for you? According to a new study, there are some benefits to those salacious rumors that we are all tempted to spread from time to time. WATCH VIDEO. The study examined 140 college students, and followed their tendencies to pass along various stories and rumors. Some of the stories that they were told were positive, and others contained negative topics. Perhaps not surprisingly, people were less enthusiastic to pass along "good" gossip unless it was about a close friend. But when it came to drunken behavior, sexual promiscuity, and cheating, they were ready to talk, especially when the gossip involved a same sex rival.
So how can these habits be good for us? Psychology professor Frank McAndrew, who authored the study, believes that our brains are actually hard-wired to gossip. We get a sense of pleasure and fulfillment from doing it. Furthermore, it can actually help us reinforce some connections with others. One of the most common sources of gossip is celebrity scandal, as witnessed first-hand this morning as Lindsay Lohan returned to the headlines. Gossiping about the famous in unflattering lights can make us feel better about ourselves, and reinforce self-confidence.
So by no means is all gossip good, as McAndrew specifies. But when used selectively, it actually can have some benefits. So spread the word.