Did you hear? There’s actually a good side to gossip. A University of Michigan (U-M) study published in the June issue of Hormones and Behavior reveals that gabbing and, thus, bonding with girlfriends can manipulate certain hormones and make you happier and healthier. You know that tingly sensation you get when someone shares a secret? Well, that may be your body producing progesterone, a hormone that reduces stress and anxiety—and increases your desire to bond with others.
Researchers measured progesterone levels in 160 female U-M students’ saliva before and after pairing them into partners. Half of the pairs were assigned a neutral task—proofreading a botany manuscript—to complete together while the other half were given an emotionally charged job to jointly tackle. Then the women were asked to play a computerized card game with their partners before giving a second saliva sample. The findings: The women who had emotionally interacted had the same or higher levels of progesterone, while those in the isolated pairs saw levels that tended to drop. The women who'd engaged emotionally were also more likely to say they'd sacrifice for their partners.
Now this doesn't give you the right to start—or spread—rumors. But it does give you the incentive to start sharing on an emotional level with friends and team members.