The Psychology Behind Backbiting


At once in our life we all must have found ourselves or someone talking ill behind someone, a thing we called commonly as ‘backbiting’. We may have felt guilty at certain times doing that, but sometimes we do it unintentionally or without even realizing it, it’s a common human tendency to do that in the name of gossiping or just for fun.

Throughout the history of mankind, backbiting has been a common special phenomenon. It can be harmless most of the time, but its complexities vary from individual to individual But why do we backbite? Even knowing that it is wrong to do that? The following will explore the psychology behind this infamous phenomenon and why we do it.

The Motivations for Backbiting
1. Social Comparison Theory:

One of the profound theories of psychology tries to explain the reason behind backbiting. The Social Comparison Theory was given by the famous psychologist Leon Festinger. In this theory, Festinger has stated that people backbite as a means to know about their own abilities and self-worth by comparing them to others. By talking ill about someone, and highlighting their flaws, people wanted to enhance their own self-esteem and feel good about themselves.

2. Struggling with Insecurity and Self-Esteem:

People who often backbite are mostly the ones with low self-esteem since childhood. Such people often are struggling with insecurities about their life and achievements. So in order to deal with this feeling they try to shift this thought to somewhere else.

3. Improve Social Rankings:

People often talk ill behind some back as a means to improve their image in social groups or friend cycles. Targeting the negativity about one person focuses on the shift of attention of tn the person. By making that person look bad in front of everyone which makes them feel proud of themselves.

Cognitive Biases and its relation to Backbiting

Backbiting is also influenced by cognitive biases. Cognitive bias is a set of patterns in thinking we make judgments about something or another. In making judgment s it makes thus illogical and unreasonable. It leads to forming the wrong perception about someone.

1) Confirmation Bias:

    When we backbite it is so common for people to talk about some information that will confirm their opinion about someone. We search for something that will our beliefs that we have. It is because of confirmation bias people give importance only to the negative piece of information about someone that confirms their opinions and ideas.

    For eg; A person who believes that climate change is not real will only show only that piece info that proves that climate change is not real. He will not pay attention to the evidence and data that shows about climate change.

    2) Fundamental Attribution Error:

    This type of cognitive bias makes us judge people on the basis of their personality. We don’t look at the situation instead we look at the personality of a person. Gossiping about someone is a very simple way to make a situation difficult. This type of bias leads to forming stereotypes about others in society.

    3) Illusory Superiority of Feeling superior to others:

    Backbiting can also happen if a person thinks so highly about his qualities and achievement and thinks low about others’ qualities. They try to underestimate others and feel entitled to what they have in life.

    Consequences of Backbiting
    1. Loss of trust:

    Backbiting can cause people to lose trust in the person and group. If the person knows that people are engaging in ill talks behind their back it emotionally affects their sense of safety among trust and causes them to trust.

    2. Reputation Damage:

    Backbiting lower the reputation and image of the person doing that. It damages their image in front of their social circle. people think of that person as someone who should be trusted with.

    3. Creates Toxic Environment:

    Continuous backbiting creates a toxic environment among people. It creates a negative situation where people lose trust in each other with their secrets. It has the tendency to destroy strong relationships among friends and families.

    Insecurities and Comparison

    Talking behind someone’s back is a complicated behavior that comes from different reasons like personal insecurities and wanting to feel better than others. But doing this can cause serious problems. It’s important to understand why people do it so we can communicate better, make stronger connections, and create a more positive and helpful social circle.

    Backbiting is a complex human behavior that has various reasons behind t why it occurs. We human beings are complex creatures and have our personal problems and journey that we have to deal with in whatever way possible that keeps us going in this life. Occasional backbiting can be normal if its intent is harmless but however, but excess of anything is harmful. Hence overdoing it might cause us to lose our sense of morality and right and wrong. It can cause us too strongly develop negative emotions that might pollute our thoughts.

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