June 10, 2009
Men might argue that the last thing women need is another reason to gossip but scientists have discovered that it could be good for their health.
Scientists at the , who carried out the study, said plays an important part in social bonding and also makes women more willing to help other people in trouble, even if it means risking their own lives in the process.
“Many of the hormones involved in bonding and helping behaviour lead to reductions in ,” said Professor Stephanie Brown, who led the research.
“Now we see that higher levels of progesterone may be part of the underlying basis of these effects.”
Progesterone is a hormone produced by the ovaries in women.
Scientists already knew higher levels of progesterone increased a woman’s desire to bond with others.
But the latest research, published in the journal Hormones and Behaviour, is the first to show gossiping and chatting can actually stimulate its production.
Researchers recruited 160 female students and took saliva samples to check their levels of progesterone.
They were then put in pairs. Half were given questions to ask each other designed to bring them closer together.
These included “Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?” and “What has been your greatest accomplishment?”
The other pairs were asked to proofread a research paper on botany together.
After 20 minutes, the volunteers had their hormone levels checked again.
The students who got to know each other through ‘chatty’ questions saw progesterone levels either stay the same or increase.
In the other group, progesterone actually declined.
Professor Brown added: “It’s important to find the links between biological mechanisms and human social behaviour. These links help us understand why people in are happier, healthier and live longer than those who are socially isolated.”
Comment from Leslie
News of progesterone, women’s relationships and bonding has flooded the Internet. Meant to post something about this – more scientific – but then the article turned from science to “gossip.” How demeaning to women. How sexist. Not all women “gossip.” There are many great women and groups of women who use their natural hormones to change the world order – make intelligent decisions, influence public policy, and educate. And yet it all comes back to “gossip.”