A rumor is an unsubstantiated statement that spreads rapidly through the community from person to person by word of mouth. Rumors often influence people’s behavior and can cause a significant impact on their lives, especially when they are false. Some rumors may be entertaining, but others can be harmful to a person’s reputation or life. Rumors also affect companies and organizations. To avoid negative effects of a rumor, companies can use several tactics, including analyzing the grapevine, identifying habitual rumor spreaders and keeping employees informed.
To begin, it is important to know the difference between a rumor and gossip. Rumors are often misconstrued as gossip because they have similar functions, such as providing social support and influencing group solidarity. However, a rumor is different in that it is typically fabricated and untrue. Rumors also tend to focus on current events or issues, while gossip is a more personal story.
Creating a rumor involves knowing the elements of it and what motivates people to spread it. Researchers have found that a rumor can be influenced by three broad psychological motivations-fact-finding, relationship-enhancement and self-enhancement. A rumor can also be influenced by the situation in which it is being spread, such as the need to feel part of a group or the need to adjust to an uncertain event.
One of the most influential factors in a rumor’s success is its credibility. People tend to believe a rumor more if it has a high degree of credibility, such as coming from a reliable source or being a well-known fact. A rumor will also be more likely to spread if it meets other criteria such as being exciting or having dramatic details that grab a person’s attention.
Another factor in a rumor’s success involves the desire of many people to see it become true. This can be due to a desire for revenge or to bring down someone’s image. For example, people might spread a rumor about their favorite celebrity in hopes that it will ruin their reputation.
A rumor’s success can also be determined by how hard it is to disprove. If a rumor can be disproved by evidence, such as video or photographic proof, it will not take off. The best way to get a rumor to spread is to plant pieces of evidence around the person it is being targeted.
Amir Ebrahimi Fard is a doctoral student who studies rumor and its impact on society. He has a Bachelor’s in software engineering and a Master’s in business administration. His research focuses on the social and behavioral aspects of rumor, with a particular emphasis on how rumors spread in social media. His research has been published in numerous academic journals and conferences.