ATLANTA, June 6 (UPI) -- Of the 112 messages the average corporate e-mail user sends every day, nearly 15 percent are likely to be gossip or office scuttlebutt, a U.S. study indicates.
Computer scientist Eric Gilbert at Georgia Tech University examined hundreds of thousands of e-mails from the former Enron Corporation and found about one out of every seven constituted "gossip," defined as messages that contain information about a person or persons not among the recipients.
Gossip is prevalent at all levels of the corporate hierarchy, Gilbert found, although lower levels gossip the most.
Some "gossip" messages may serve a positive purpose, he said.
"Gossip gets a bad rap," he said in a release Wednesday. "When you say 'gossip,' most people immediately have a negative interpretation, but it's actually a very important form of communication.
"Even tiny bits of information, like 'Eric said he'd be late for this meeting,' add up; after just a few of those messages, you start to get an impression that Eric is a late person."
Researchers analyzed e-mails among seven layers of Enron hierarchy, from rank-and-file office employees all the way up to presidents and executive officers, and found gossip emails flowing within and among nearly every level, with the heaviest flow among the rank-and-file.
"Gossip is generally how we know what we know about each other, and for this study we viewed it simply as a means to share social information," Gilbert said.
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