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Gossip and the Self


David C. Watson, Department of Psychology, Grant MacEwan University, CCC-6-374, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T5J 2J2. E-mail:


The relationship between self-reported gossip, evaluative conversation about other people, and the self was examined with 243 university students completing questionnaires measuring gossip from 2 theoretical viewpoints: as an individual-difference characteristic, or as having social functions. The self was examined using several perspectives: self-concept clarity, self-efficacy, locus of control, and self-monitoring. Using structural equation modeling, gossip was related to external locus of control, high-self-monitoring, low self-concept clarity, and low self-efficacy. The final model is that high self-monitoring and locus of control mediate the relationship between self-clarity/efficacy and gossip. The study demonstrates the important role of self-monitoring and locus of control in gossip and that negative gossip may be associated with a more externalized, unclear sense of self.