Using neuro-imaging, scientists are measuring which image a person’s brain will focus on given a choice between two visuals of faces one with negative connotative associations and one with positive or neutral associations.
Which image does the brain choose according to io9 Psychology ? The results are intriguing to say the least.
Previous research has shown that people remember negative information better. This new study took it a step further testing our brain and determining that the brain responds differently to a person’s face after we hear nasty gossip about someone.
Scientists found that people will stare longer at the face’s of people they’ve heard bad things about. They suggest that this brain override for focusing on people we’ve heard bad things about could offer an evolutionary advantage: They commented in the journal Science:
‘It is easy to imagine that this preferential selection for perceiving bad people might protect us from liars and cheaters by allowing us to view them for longer and explicitly gather more information about their behavior.’
The study links gossip as having a measurable effect on our perception of other people.
The down side to this study is that the desire to stare at victims of gossip is no guarantee that their behavior matches the gossip. They might not be “bad” people. Also, a true criminal would exploit this human weakness.