Why we gossip: A functional perspective on the self-relevance of gossip for senders, receivers and targets

Elena Martinescu

Research output: ThesisThesis fully internal (DIV)

3502 Downloads (Pure)


People gossip abundantly in all social contexts. We propose that gossip is an essential part of living in social groups, because it helps people successfully adapt and respond to the demands and challenges present in their environment. In this dissertation we demonstrate that gossip is functional for all the individuals who are involved in the gossip process: senders, receivers, and targets of gossip. Specifically, people spread gossip to address their need for information, to exert influence and bond with others. Gossip helps receivers evaluate themselves in comparison to the gossip targets. Gossip elicits emotional reactions from its targets, shaping their responses towards themselves and others. Generally speaking, the current work shows that gossip is functional for its senders, receivers, and targets, because it represents an accessible way for individuals to learn about themselves in relation to their social environment, and respond adaptively to its demands.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of Groningen
  • Janssen, Onne, Supervisor
  • Nijstad, Bernard, Supervisor
Award date19-Jun-2017
Place of Publication[Groningen]
Print ISBNs978-90-367-9846-4
Electronic ISBNs978-90-367-9845-7
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Cite this