Northeastern Researchers Study Gossip

Northeastern researchers recently published a study on the impact that negative gossip has on the brain’s ability to remember a person or face. According to their research, test subjects were more likely to remember a person if they heard a piece of negative gossip about them when they were shown a picture of that person’s face. If volunteers spent more time hearing positive connotations about a person they were more likely to forget their face. Interestingly, Dr. Lisa Barrett, Distinguished Professor of Psychology at Northeastern University, believes that the result of this study directly helps people remember and avoid people who may cause them harm. Snell Library also contains some resources on the subject like the online report, The Relative Effect of Positive and Negative Humorous Gossip on Perceptions of the Gossiper and the Target of the Gossip, which discusses a study on the perceptions and effects of gossip and gossipers. Other related articles can be found by doing a Discovery or NuCat search on the library’s homepage ( for subjects like “gossip”, “psychology of the brain”, “memory”, etc. You can also view Northeastern’s recent interview with Lisa Feldman Barrett discussing her study on YouTube. In addition, you can find more of her work in IRis, Northeastern’s Institutional Repository.