Report

The Visual Impact of Gossip

Science  19 May 2011:

DOI: 10.1126/science.1201574

Abstract

Gossip is a form of affective information about who is friend and who is foe. We show that gossip does not impact only how a face is evaluated—it affects whether a face is seen in the first place. In two experiments, neutral faces were paired with negative, positive, or neutral gossip and were then presented alone in a binocular rivalry paradigm (faces were presented to one eye, houses to the other). In both studies, faces previously paired with negative (but not positive or neutral) gossip dominated longer in visual consciousness. These findings demonstrate that gossip, as a potent form of social affective learning, can influence vision in a completely top-down manner, independent of the basic structural features of a face.