Perceptions of Women Who Gossip In the Workplace

Published: 2021-07-28 00:15:06
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Farley, Timme, and Hart's (2010) article describes a study, which investigated the perceptions of female gossipers within the workplace. Approximately 500 students were asked to complete an online survey, 87 of whom (aged from 23 to 64) completed all 54 items. A questionnaire was conducted which included demographic items, and the subscales of a modified FIRO-B. Participants were arbitrarily allocated to a condition and were asked to “think of a female co-worker who frequently or rarely contributes negative information about other people during conversation” (Farley et al. p. 365) and then evaluate the target using a modified version of Schutz’s (1958) FIRO-B, which is a measuring instrument that contains six scales of nine-item questions (cited in Farley et al, 2010). Participants then judged the female co-worker on a five-point Likert-Type scale. The results showed that high gossipers were rated as needing to express more control than low gossipers. The participants also rated the high gossipers as wanting others to control them less than low gossipers.
Furthermore, high gossipers were rated as less emotionally close with their peers than low gossipers. These findings support the hypothesis that high gossipers would obtain higher ratings on the express control dimension than low gossipers. The results also support the hypothesis that high gossipers would be rated as less likely to want others to put forth power over them than low gossipers. Farley et al. 's (2010) experiment needs a small degree of critiquing. For one, it uses a poor assortment of participants, as the sample is too constricted to make any real generalizations.
Participants were recruited via email. This method of assignment would have led to unequal groups in terms of demographic characteristics such as different ages and gender (cited in Farley et al, 2010). Older people may be more judgmental of gossiping than younger people; therefore this may hinder the final results. Also, the experimenter only used females in the questionnaire, drawing on the myth that the majority of gossipers are females; therefore it does not generalize to everyone in the workplace.

There may well have been an interaction effect between gossipers and gender; therefore males as well as females should have been included in the questionnaire. Furthermore, I am not satisfied with how the authors defined ‘gossip’; in fact there is no clear statement delineating ‘gossip’. The lack of the experimenters’ control over the independent variable (gender) makes it a subject variable as opposed to a manipulated variable, therefore it is a quasi experiment and you cannot infer causality from the results.

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