We've all done it: engaged in talking about family members, friends, enemies, famous personalities, etc. The work place is no exception! New research published in the journal "Science" shows that the effects of gossip linger in our minds, and actually affect our visual processes! According to the researchers, "gossip does not influence only how a face is evaluated—it affects whether a face is seen in the first place." This was measured by first presenting the subjects with images of various faces and an accompanying "story" for each face. These stories were either positive, neutral, or negative. Then, using a method called binocular rivalry, they presented each eye with a competing image: one eye "saw" houses, and the other eye the images of the faces. The brain, being unable to see the images at the same time, presents us with each image in alteration. Subjects were then asked to press a button to indicate which image were they seeing, house or face, and for the duration of that image. The length of button pressing was significantly higher for images of faces that had been paired with negative stories, thus exhibiting that the brain was spending more time on those faces that had been linked with a negative story. The researchers suggest that this may be happening because our brains are conditioned to protect us from negative influences.
Ever heard the adage "No press is bad press." In this case it seems that if one wants to be remembered, BAD PRESS may indeed be beneficial!
The Visual Impact of Gossip
Eric Anderson, Erika H. Siegel, Eliza Bliss-Moreau, Lisa Feldman Barrett
Published Online May 19 2011
Science 17 June 2011:
Vol. 332 no. 6036 pp. 1446-1448