09/09/2010 13:28 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Go On, Have A Gossip (It's Good For You)

Have you ever felt bad about talking about someone behind their back? Few people can resist a good old-fashioned gossip session, but it's not exactly seen as being a positive thing. Some British psychologists, however, beg to differ.

MorgueFile, jdurham

Having a natter about someone you know with a group of friends can actually be good for you, says Dr Jennifer Cole from the British Psychological Society. But there's a drawback: you have to say good things.

So go ahead and talk behind someone's back, but make sure what you say is essentially positive (so no bitching, in other words).

Dr Cole studied a group of volunteers and quizzed them about their tendency to gossip. The more you gossip, she found, the better your feelings of social support - that is, gossiping helps you bond with your fellow gossipers.

The Staffordshire University psychologist also discovered that if you praise someone when you gossip about them, it makes you feel good about yourself too. So be nice, and it could boost your own self-esteem.

"Our findings suggest some forms of gossiping - particularly the type where people praise others - could be linked with some desirable outcomes for the gossiper, despite the fact that gossipers are not generally approved of," explains Dr Cole.

So do you love a good gossip? Or do you feel guilty afterwards and wonder what your fellow gossipers might be saying about you? And is it even worth gossiping if you can only say nice things about people? Go on, spill (we won't tell, honest).