Rumor is unsubstantiated information or statements that are not necessarily true, but that influence the way people think and act. These unfounded claims can spread quickly and may have serious consequences for the individuals involved, their friends and family and even society as a whole. For example, false rumors may discredit politicians or create fears that lead to panic, such as during Hurricane Katrina or the Iraq War when people believed the government was blowing up levees or sending weapons of mass destruction to Syria.
The study of rumor is an important field of psychology and has been used to understand human behavior and how propaganda works. There are four main types of rumors: wish rumors; fear or bogey rumors; wedge-driving rumors; and anticipatory rumors. Many of these rumors prey on anxieties in society, including worries about health, safety, money and how people look.
To start a rumor you must first figure out why you want to do it. Some people like to humiliate others, while others use rumors as a tool for revenge or simply because they enjoy gossiping. The key to a successful rumor is making it as outrageous as possible to grab attention.
It is best to spread your rumor around a group of people that you trust. This will ensure that the rumor is not diluted by different interpretations of what it means or how accurate it is. Having multiple sources will also give the rumor more credibility and help people believe it. You should also try to avoid mentioning anyone that you know is a big gossiper as they may be more likely to tell the rumor to everyone they see.
If you are going to start a rumor, be prepared for it to get out of control and be hard to stop. Once a rumor is in the public domain it is impossible to contain and many times can be spun into a political or social issue that was never intended by the original author of the rumor.
There is a lot of confusion when it comes to the difference between rumor and gossip. It is thought that rumor is about public issues while gossip is more about private, trivial matters. A recent study showed that men and women gossip equally, and that there are a number of factors that can separate a rumor from a simple conversation piece. These include numerical, movement, relative size, dramatic detail and familiar symbol.
In the study, researchers looked at a collection of tweets that included either a true or false rumor. They then analyzed the tweets for evidence of the rumor. They found that tweets that were verified to be true had significantly more resonance than those that were not. This was due to a number of factors, including the evidence being attributed to an accessible source, whether a URL or someone quoted in the tweet; the presence of a picture; and the insertion of a statement about how credible a particular piece of evidence is.