Date of Award

2012

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Program

School of Behavioral and Organizational Sciences

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Michael A. Hogg

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

William D. Crano

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Eusebio M. Alvaro

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Cynthia L. Pickett

Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2012 Dane Turcotte

Abstract

Gossip is a little studied topic and even fewer studies have examined gossip from the perspective of social identity and self categorization theories. However, many of the functions of gossip have significant implications for group processes, including bonding, norm transmission and reinforcement, marginalization of deviants, and social influence. Particularly for those on the margins of the group, gossip may be used as a tool to gain acceptance in the group, as gossip is an effective way to express group loyalty and adherence to group norms. Study One investigated the extent to which being a prototypical member of one's group was predictive of likelihood to spread gossip. Using sororities as the group, members were presented with a hypothetical piece of gossip and asked the extent to which the member who gossiped is prototypical, how likely they would be to share the gossip with other group members, and how prototypical they perceive themselves to be of the sorority. It was predicted that peripheral group members would be more likely to spread gossip than central group members, particularly about other peripheral group members, and particularly when the information was not highly negative. Study Two was conducted in parallel, using the same methodology, but with a piece of gossip about a celebrity instead of a fellow sorority member. It was predicted that the results would mirror those of Study One and that peripheral members would be most likely to spread the gossip. While none of the stated hypotheses were supported, there were several unanticipated interactions. In both Study One and Study Two, there was a significant three-way interaction, in that a highly uncertain respondent, a prototypical target, and relatively mildly negative gossip was associated with anticipated transmission to the highest number of sorority members. While the results were unanticipated, they are not inexplicable and the implications for research in the areas of gossip, celebrity, and self categorization theory are discussed.

DOI

10.5642/cguetd/30

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