Gossiping is one of humankind’s purest joys: It’s embarrassingly entertaining, pleasantly unproductive, and an incredible waste of time. And yet, the average person apparently doesn’t even do it for a full hour a day? Hmm.
For two to five days, people participating in a University of California–Irvine study wore portable devices that recorded their conversations, which were later analyzed by university researchers. The findings, published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, were utterly shocking: The typical person gossips approximately 52 minutes a day, most of which is spent sharing details that are, quite frankly, boring as hell.
“We actually found that the overwhelming majority of gossip was neutral,” study author Megan Robbins told NPR. “About three-quarters of the conversation we heard in our sampled conversations was neither positive nor negative.”
In fact, per the study, only 15 percent of the recorded conversations were petty or judgmental, which is honestly very impressive. But that 15 percent can be useful: Per Elena Martinescu, a researcher at King’s College London who has studied gossip but was not involved the UC study, if you find out your co-workers have been gossiping about your poor work etiquette, you’re more “likely to repair the aspects of [your] behavior that [you] were criticized for,” she told NPR. Meanwhile, the people who were shit-talking about you were probably becoming even closer friends, as they were able to bond over common ground: your bad behavior.
Something for everyone — lovely!