Gossip is the spread of personal information, rumors, twisted truths and lies about a person or entity. Gossip is detrimental to reputations and self-esteem, and can cause emotional distress. However, there is also a benefit to gossip if it builds relationships with co-workers or friends who you share the gossip with.
Gossip that is negative, like discussion of a bad experience in a restaurant or hair salon, can be detrimental, while a rave review can be beneficial. Gossip acts as a form of advertising for businesses, and maintaining good customer service can help to ensure good gossip or word of mouth. In terms of individuals, gossip can be bad, full of hurtful lies, or it can be good. Gossip can paint someone as a hard worker who is kind and responsible.
Gossip in the workplace or in schools reduces productivity because employees and students are not spending that time doing their jobs or studying. It also wastes the time of managers or school administrators who must address any problems that come up because of gossip. If the managers, school administrators or teachers do not step in when they see gossip causing problems, it comes off as approving of the behavior.
Hearing negative gossip about oneself can be very detrimental to one's self-esteem and mental health. Hearing negative information about yourself, even if it isn't true, can affect your psyche and make you look down on yourself, as though you did what the gossipers are saying. This can lead to long-term self-esteem problems and also to resentment of gossipers.
According to a study by an assistant professor of psychology at the University of South Florida, Jennifer Bosson, gossiping with others can help build strong relationships. Sharing your negative opinions of people, whether they be celebrities or people in your life, without their knowledge can build stronger relationships with others than sharing positive opinions about those people. As of June 2011, Bosson is studying why it seems that human nature gravitates towards a negative way of looking at others.