How Rumors Spread


A rumor is a false story that spreads like wildfire and can influence the way people behave. It can be about anything, from how someone looks to where they got their money. It usually starts with a person telling their friends and then the friends tell others, and so on. These days rumors can also travel on social media and reach people who don’t even know the person involved.

If you want to start a rumor, it helps if it is about something that people can relate to and would be interested in hearing. For example, a rumor about a celebrity having cosmetic surgery could spread quickly. This is because it is a topic that many people have anxieties about, such as their appearance or money.

To test how rumors spread, social scientist Gordon Allport created an experiment. He had a group of subjects pass a story from mouth to ear without repeating it or explaining it. He found that by the time the rumor reached the end of the chain, it had changed. The story was shortened, the details had been forgotten, and it often had new information added to it. Allport called this the sharpening effect. He found that there were a number of factors that contributed to the sharpening of a rumor: movement, relative size, dramatic detail, and primacy-recency effects.

Another factor that influences a rumor’s spread is how believable it is. If it seems unbelievable, people will not believe it or will at least have a hard time believing it. When creating a rumor, it is important to include enough details to make it believable. It also helps if the rumor can’t be easily disproven. This is because if it can be proved, the rumor will stop spreading as fast.

When a rumor is about a business, it can be especially damaging. This is because the rumor may cause the business to lose customers. For this reason, it is best to address a rumor as soon as possible. This can be done in a number of ways, including setting the record straight and letting people know the truth.

If you have a friend who is known to spread rumors, you can try to get them to stop by talking with them and explaining the truth. You can also try to be understanding of them and ask why they started the rumor in the first place. If they admit that they are just insecure, it may help to show them grace and forgive them. If they started the rumor out of malice, it may be harder to convince them to stop but you can still try. If they do not stop, you can take steps to limit their access to your social media account. You can also report them to social media sites. This will prevent them from being able to post things about you. If they continue to spread the rumor, you may have to confront them.