London: Researchers have suggested that good gossip should be encouraged in workplaces as it helps weed out the work-shy and makes for a more efficient office.

A study by psychologists at the University of Amsterdam found that up to nine in 10 conversations is gossip but it is not necessarily malicious.

The study, published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, argued that organisations can "benefit from gossip that is instigated for positive reasons" just as much as they can be damaged by malicious conversations between colleagues, a daily reported.

Gossip makes it possible for group members to warn each other against those who do not behave in accordance with the group's norms, the researchers said.

And even the threat of gossip can be enough to force lazy employees to contribute, they added.

Dr Bianca Beersma and Prof Gerben Van Kleef, who wrote the study, claimed that by distinguishing between different types of gossip, organisations can "minimise the negative and optimise the positive consequences".

The study, which asked 121 of the university's undergraduates to analyse their motives for gossiping, found that although some wanted to manipulate others, entertain themselves or find out information about a mutual acquaintance, others chose to gossip to protect the group from harmful behaviour among some members.

Dr Beersma told a daily her findings showed that it would be wrong "to prevent all gossip or stimulate all gossip".

"Very malicious and very positive gossip occurs equally often. It is very hard to say it is always this and always that. The truth is that both happens," she said.

Even the risk they would be gossiped about could change people's behaviour, she said.

"When there is a threat of gossip in the group, they become more motivated to contribute to the group," she said.


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