Gossip and group performances: an agent-based model.


Gossip is a central characteristic of human interactions, and it occurs very frequently in teams and organisations (in the workplace, 90% of people engage in gossip - Grosser et al., 2012). Individuals have been found to gossip for different motives (Beersma & Van Kleef 2012, Dores Cruz at al. 2019), and such motives have been argued to be crucial for understanding the effects of this phenomenon (Grosser et al. 2012). Nevertheless, the impact of gossip motives on group functioning and performances has still to be investigated. In this paper, we propose an innovative method to tackle this question: an agent-based model that allows us to observe how different gossip motives affect group performance. Results show that agents who gossip pro-socially make the team more efficient, leading the group to achieve the goal faster than groups with agents who gossip pro-selfishly or to vent their emotions. Moreover, this result is consistent regardless of the population size and the importance that agents give to the gossip instances they receive. Thus, this model sheds light on how different gossip motives affect the team performances, opening the debate on how to optimise the team functioning given the gossip people engage in.