Small talk can be a big help

New research claims daily doses of chit-chat can actually prevent bad behaviour, exploitation and reduce stress levels.
New research claims daily doses of chit-chat can actually prevent bad behaviour, exploitation and reduce stress levels. Scottie Simmonds

HAVE you heard the latest on gossip?

Next time you're spreading word around the office water cooler or dishing the dirt over coffee, don't feel too bad as gossiping can actually be good for your health.

New research from the University of California Berkeley says daily doses of chitchat can actually prevent bad behaviour, exploitation and reduce stress levels.

"Gossip gets a bad rap, but we're finding evidence that it plays a critical role in the maintenance of social order," UC Berkeley social psychologist Robb Willer said.

The study also found that gossip could be therapeutic. Volunteers' heart rates increased when they witnessed someone behaving badly, but this increase was tempered when they were able to pass on the information to alert others.

"Spreading information about the person whom they had seen behave badly tended to make people feel better ," Mr Willer said.

Self-confessed gossiper and Noosa identity Jayne Keogh believes gossip can be good for you.

She said hot topics for gossiping women included men, sex, fashion, make up, and of course, other women.

"It can be a chance to get all that negative energy out and allow us to focus on things," she said.

"It's just a way that women help to solve problems... it's a way of communication."

She said social media was responsible for taking gossip to a whole new level.

"Social media makes it easier because you don't have to be there in the room. It's definitely raised the bar," she said.

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