If you hear some juicy gossip, a new study's data may make you want to go ahead and spread gossip.
Scientists say that talking about others and excluding people deemed untrustworthy can actually prevent bullying and make people feel bad enough to change their ways.
The study in the Psychological Science Journal found that individuals who were ostracized for bad behavior actually learned their lesson and corrected their mistakes.
The study divided 216 men and women into teams of four. They were told to play a game where they made financial choices that would benefit their respective groups. If you donated to the group, you'd get a certain amount of money back, but if you didn't donate at all, you'd ride off everyone else's donations and get even more back.
After each round, people could then gossip about their previous group members. People were then put into new groups with their reputations. They also had an opportunity to exclude a suspect participant from the group decision making.
Not surprisingly, when people heard gossip about the reputations of others, they were more careful and aligned themselves with those deemed co-operative. Those who had a bad reputation quickly became more generous when it came to donating to the pot.
Researchers say gossip and exclusion can be misused, but it is still beneficial for society.