Tell Me the Gossip: The Self-Evaluative Function of Receiving Gossip About Others

Abstract

We investigate the self-evaluative function of competence-related gossip for individuals who receive it. Using the Self-Concept
Enhancing Tactician (SCENT) model, we propose that individuals use evaluative information about others (i.e., gossip) to improve,
promote, and protect themselves. Results of a critical incident study and an experimental study showed that positive gossip
had higher self-improvement value than negative gossip, whereas negative gossip had higher self-promotion value and raised
higher self-protection concerns than positive gossip. Self-promotion mediated the relationship between gossip valence and
pride, while self-protection mediated the relationship between gossip valence and fear, although the latter mediated relationship
emerged for receivers with mastery goals rather than performance goals. These results suggest that gossip serves self-evaluative
functions for gossip receivers and triggers self-conscious emotions.

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