Not all gossip is bad, research finds

Lachlan Ward, 4, shares a secret with Ava-Grace Angeles, 4, at Amaze Early Education Centre, Silkstone. Picture: Tara Croser
Lachlan Ward, 4, shares a secret with Ava-Grace Angeles, 4, at Amaze Early Education Centre, Silkstone. Picture: Tara Croser

Some of our cute kids were featured in today’s Courier Mail article.

Not all gossip is bad, research finds

By Jackie Sinnerton, The Courier-Mail
July 8, 2016 12:00am

GOSSIPING begins at age five but scientists have found that children use it for good not evil.

Preschoolers secretly tell each other which of their peers is kind, who is a cheater, which one is a bully or who is greedy. Their aim is to fit in and help others to fit in.

Brisbane child psychologist Judith Locke said young children had no intent of malice when they shared this information, rather it was a valuable social function.

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“I think we have to remember that humans are naturally sociable and that their actions are often with the ultimate intention to fit in and help others to fit in and form cohesive and productive social groups,’’ Dr Locke said.

“Children are not as discerning as adults in their choice of friends but they are looking to form a social group and it is always easier with like-minded people who they believe will help the group.”

Research published in the Journal of Develop­mental Psychology shows that while five-year-olds share information to help a friend decide on a co-operative partner, three-year-olds did not warn of bad behaviour.

“This is an interesting study and clever in that it appeared to show preschoolers used this type of discussion to be helpful to other children, not just slanderous comments on their peers,” Dr Locke said.

“I think the word ‘gossip’ for adults implies a negative thing.”

But gossip can be helpful too, she said.

“If you hear one person in your workplace gossip about how another always arrives late, it does serve as a good reminder to you that it is important to this workplace that people turn up on time and ultimately helps you.”