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Relational ruin or social glue? The joint effect of relationship type and gossip valence on liking, trust, and expertise

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Although scholars have discussed the occurrence of gossip in social situations, gossip's function as a social influence tool has received little theoretical attention. Of particular interest is the issue of whether gossip is untrustworthy, leading to relational demise, or whether gossip can lead to perceived liking, trust, and expertise. The prediction was made that whether gossip acts as relational ruin or social glue depends on the valence of the gossip and the type of relationship among the communicators. It was proposed that source cue perceptions will be the function of an interaction between relationship type and gossip valence. Specifically, friends' judgments will not be affected by gossip valence, but strangers' assessments of liking, trust, and expertise will increase when gossip is positive and will decrease when gossip is negative (when controlling for propensity to gossip). An experiment was designed to test these predictions. The data indicated that both positive and negative gossip are perceived negatively for both friends and strangers.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2003-06-01

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