Tuesday, October 2, 2012


Published: Psychology Today; (psychologytoday.com)
Level of Difficulty: ***
This article comes out of “Psychology Today” and is a well written and balanced advantages and disadvantages text. Being an article written specifically for publication in a magazine, it has a more conversational and less formal tone in parts but students need to be exposed to this style as well; not just academic stuff. On the plus side, it provides both the down sides and the up sides (surprise, surprise!) of gossip providing scope for writing. The reading task is followed by an advantages and disadvantages essay. As usual, should you wish to use the text, you will need to access it yourselves due to copyright issues.
Read as far as “Gossip is Bad”; then, answer the questions:
1.       Which sentences serve as what we would normally call the thesis statement?
2.       Why does the writer start with the Tiger Woods story?
Vocabulary in this section:
Paragraph 2: Explain the phrase “Tabloid bloodhounds smelt a fox on the green”
Paragraph 3: Explain the phrase “Pouring fuel on this media fire”
Paragraph 3: Find a word meaning “plenty of”
Paragraph 3: Find a word meaning “appearing everywhere”
Read “Gossip is Bad”; then, answer the questions:
3.       Which sentence best summarizes what this section is about?
4.       What are the three reasons why gossip is bad?
5.       Would you have these three reasons in the order they are presented in the text or differently? Explain.
6.       What is “relational aggression”?
7.       What does “it” refer to in the sentence beginning “The Talmund”
8.       How does the writer reach the conclusion that “Spreading negative gossip about others is thus a cheap way of boosting estimation of yourself”.
Vocabulary in this section:
Paragraph 6: Find a word meaning “to say bad things about”
Paragraph 7: Find a word meaning “marked by unpleasantness and shameful qualities”
Paragraph7: Did you look up “preys upon” and “foibles”? If you did, were you right or wrong to do so? If not, why didn’t you? Explain.
Paragraph8: What is meant by the phrase “a squeaky clean image”?
Read “The Gossip Paradox”; then, answer the questions:
9.       Which sentence best summarizes this section?
10.   What is the function of the last sentence of paragraph 9?
11.   What are the three advantages of gossip provided in this section?
12.   Despite these advantages, there is a downside of obtaining information through gossip. What is it?
Vocabulary in this section:
Paragraph 9: Find a word meaning “mixed up in”
Read “Gossip as Moral Instruction”; then answer the questions:
13.   What is the advantage of introducing the concept of moral instruction at the end of the previous section?
14.   How exactly does gossip inform us about how to act properly in a given social context?
15.   The case of Tiger Woods is mentioned once again in this section to support the writer’s contention that………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
Vocabulary in this section:
Paragraph 12: Find a word meaning “effective”.
Paragraph 13: Find a word meaning “ordinary”
Paragraph 13: Find a word meaning “adapted or suited to”
Read “Gossip as Moral Motivation”; then, answer the questions:
16.   What does “this” in paragraph 15, the first paragraph of this section, refer to?
17.   Read the first sentence of paragraph 15. How does the writer qualify this statement?
18.   What does the following statement at the end of paragraph 17 mean? Explain in your own words. “There was, indeed, a large white elephant in the limousine.”
Read “The Dread of Exposure”; then, answer the questions:
19.   How does gossip teach us what behavior is acceptable?
20.   What does “this” in the phrase “this is a social good” in paragraph 21 refer to?
Vocabulary in this section:
Paragraph 19: Explain what the phrase “a serious falling out” means.
Paragraph 19: Did you look up the words “scrutiny” and “ostracism”. Explain your motives.
Read “Good from Gossip Words”; then, answer the questions:
21.   There are five lessons to be learnt from the Tiger Woods story. They are:
22.   What is the function of paragraph 27? Where else in the section could it have been placed?
Vocabulary in this section:
Paragraph23: Provide a synonym for the word “disseminated”
Read “An Unintended Consequence”; then, answer the questions:
23.   What is the function of this section of the text? Analyze the structure.
24.   Do you agree with the writers view concerning gossip? Explain.

The Gossip Paradox: Writing task
Write an essay discussing the advantages and disadvantages of gossip using the points provided in the text. Write an introduction introducing the concept of gossip as a major social activity and end with the following thesis statement:
Thesis statement: Gossip, contrary to popular belief, has certain advantages along with certain disadvantages.
In the first paragraph of the development, discuss the advantages. Consult answers you’ve given to relevant questions and the text. Provide examples and explanations of your own. End with a reference to accuracy to provide transition to the next paragraph.
In the second paragraph of the development, discuss the disadvantages. Consult answers you’ve given to relevant questions and the text. Provide examples and explanations of your own.
Last of all, write a conclusion.

The Introduction
1.       The last little paragraph
2.       To capture the readers’ attention; everyone is familiar with it
P.2: The paparazzi knew there was something for them to get their teeth into
P.3: Making things worse
P.3: A dearth
p.3: Ubiquitous
Gossip is bad
3.       Gossip is bad or Gossip has a bad reputation and deservedly so
4.       It is often used to exclude, slander or attack another person; characteristically in an underhand way / Gossip, especially celebrity gossip, appeals to preys upon and intensifies a voyeuristic  impulse in our nature/ Moral rationalization; that feeling of glee that someone else is worse than we are.
5.       The order in the text is more affective
6.       Victimization at the hand of vicious rumors
7.       Gossiping about another’s vocation
8.       First two sentences of paragraph 8
P.6: Slander
P.7: Sordid
P.7: No.
P.8: Spotless
The Gossip Paradox
9.       The flipside of these negatives is that gossip serves as a useful warning about harmful people
10.   Concluding statement
11.   A useful warning about harmful people/ An effective way about detecting bad behavior/ Gossip serves as moral instruction
12.   Accuracy is sacrificed
P. 9: Embroiled
Gossip as Moral Instruction
13.   It provides transition
14.   Informally or tacitly through our local network of friends and acquaintances
15.   Gossip informally, powerfully regulates behavior through the desire to avoid strong social punishment
P.12: Potent
P.13: Mundane
P.13: Attuned
Gossip as Moral Motivation
16.   The previous sentence
17.   Knowledge that one is the subject of evaluative discussion is, therefore, important to us.
18.   Avery uncomfortable atmosphere
The Dread of Exposure
19.   By exposing us to the powerful public eye…
20.   It has the effect of…
P.19: A serious disagreement or difference of opinion
P. 19: No
Good from Gossip Words
21.   The value of marital faithfulness was reinforced/ Money and fame don’t exempt one from vows taken on the wedding day / Don’t present to the world a rather wholesome family man image while all the while engaging in a whole lot of rather lascivious affairs / Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned /Be careful who you hang around with.
22.   Main ideas / The beginning
P.23: Distributed
An Unintended Consequence
23.   Conclusion: one paragraph of bad sides, one of good, pulls it together with his views.
24.   Open ended

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