A rumor is an unsubstantiated story that spreads from person to person in a social group, often through word of mouth. Rumors can be true or false, but they can be dramatic and have a high impact on people. They can affect crowds for good or bad, for example when a rumor leads to the cancellation of an event or when it inspires a riot. Rumors can be about any topic, from casting calls for a movie to the fact that someone’s husband is cheating on them.
The word rumor is sometimes confused with the term gossip, but there is an important difference. Gossip usually involves a juicy detail of personal nature and tends to be negative in tone. It is also meant to be shared behind a person’s back. Often, it can hurt their feelings. In contrast, a rumor is generally more neutral and is meant to be circulated.
In terms of how a rumor is formed, a number of studies have examined the factors that can influence how a rumor is perceived and spread. Some of the most influential are personality, anxiety and the importance of the information. Anxiety is a major factor, as individuals who are more anxious or in an anxiety-lifting situation are more likely to create and share rumors in order to relieve their feelings of insecurity. Personality is another factor; people who are impulsive and prone to believe in rumor quickly can become caught up in the excitement of a rumor and may forget to check its accuracy. The importance of a rumor is important, as it can determine whether the rumor will be shared. For example, if a rumor is about an important political event, it will be spread more quickly and widely than a rumor that is not as exciting.
Although it can be hard to control a rumor once it has started, there are ways that people can work together to manage them. An example is to focus on rumors that are relevant to the community and not to personal matters. This can help to avoid wasting time and energy on rumors that are not necessary to the community’s well-being.
Amir Ebrahimi Fard is a PhD student at the University of Oxford, where he researches the emergence and spreading of rumors on social media. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in software engineering and a Master’s degree in business administration. His research explores different aspects of rumor formation and dissemination, using theoretical frameworks, behavioural perspectives and simulations. He is particularly interested in how rumor can be used to change the behaviour of large groups of people. He is also interested in combining his research with the development of effective rumor management tools. He is working with a team of international researchers in the United States, Germany and Switzerland to apply this knowledge to real-world problems. He has presented his work at various international conferences and is a reviewer for several academic journals.