Luczon: Back stabs and daggers

IT CAN be a Filipino culture in workplaces, wherein there will never be an instance that sooner or later you will get your share of limelight courtesy of people who talk about you… but behind your backs. This means that while you were innocently doing your jobs, you might be being talked about by those who see you as either a threat or simply a subject of entertainment.

Unfortunately, gossiping may be “beneficial” to those who engaged in such behavior as researchers in the University of Pavia found out that gossipers had the tendency to increase their oxytocin levels. Oxytocins are hormones in our body responsible in regulating social interaction and sexual reproduction, and it is often called as “love hormones.”

The study, “Something to talk about: Gossip increases oxytocin levels in a near real-life situation,” was published in the March 2017 issue of the journal, “Psychoneuroendocrinology,” which were authored by Natascia Brondino, Laura Fusar-Poli, and Pierluigi Politi of the Department of Brain and Behavioral Sciences, Section of Psychiatry.

The study also revealed that while respondents of the research showed an increase level of oxytocin hormones, the cortisol hormones decreased. Cortisol hormones are often called as the “stress hormones.” So, the study suggested that people who gossiped may have an improved social interaction and bonding with others.

The participants of the study, however, were all females, around 22 of them ages 20 and 22. This might show a little bias towards an impression that females tend to gossip more than men, but Brondino explained in an article in Vice.com that they did this to avoid “arousal” between men and women, had it been a co-ed experiment, and “influence the findings.”

At hindsight, gossiping may be good for those who did it, the gossipers, but what about those who were being gossiped? Because the problem with gossiping is that stories may evolve - from factual narratives, to transformed stories - especially when these were passed off from one mouth to the other. The diligence of verification is absent because gossips are meant to be in “secret” away from the unsuspecting persons subjected to these stories.

Going back to oxytocin, these hormones have its negative nature, because it promotes “ethnocentrism” or “the tendency to view one’s group as centrally important and superior to other groups—creates intergroup bias that fuels prejudice, xenophobia, and intergroup violence.”

This was based on the study of Carsten K. W. De Dreu, Lindred L. Greer, Gerben A. Van Kleef, Shaul Shalvi and Michel J. J. Handgraaf highlighted from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

This means that, if people gossip, it may generate a cohesive understanding and positive social bond among their group, however, it can also trigger a sense of entitlement that they see themselves as better compared to the others, especially to those who they kept on gossiping about.

Now this leads to an old adage about “small minds,” “average minds,” and “brilliant minds,” although the descriptors may vary: “Small Minds” talk about other people and their trivial lives, “Average Minds,” talks about generally about events, and more of reactive to situations, but “Brilliant Minds” talk about ideas, and the future of things. I wonder, how many levels of oxytocin and cortisol may vary if the subject of conversation revolve between pure nonsense gossiping, to something that can be considered promising and innovative that may actually be useful or beneficial to humanity.

(nefluczon@gmail.com)
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