Rumor is the word for a piece of unverified information or story, usually one that is passed around without confirmation. Rumors are frequently misunderstood as a form of gossip, but it can also be a form of strategic communication. It’s important to understand rumors because a well-crafted message can help an organization meet its goals.
Rumor is an enduring feature of social landscapes. Whether it’s a smear campaign against a character, a rumor about an upcoming election, or a rumor about a riot, rumors tend to provoke emotion and affect behavior. However, rumors are usually hard to trace. They may come from someone you don’t know or even from a place you can’t reach. In fact, rumors have been documented in some of the most notorious disasters, including Hurricane Katrina.
Propaganda is another way that people control their opinion. This is often done through stories, pictures, or symbols. Some scholars have grouped rumors with propaganda. The term propaganda was coined by Harold Lasswell, a pioneer in the field of propaganda studies, in 1927.
Rumors are usually disseminated by word of mouth, a process that is very similar to how communicable diseases spread. They can be false or true, but can sometimes be slightly exaggerated. Rumors are particularly effective in influencing the actions and attitudes of crowds. Those who are anxious or upset are more likely to retell a rumor.
Rumors are closely related to a host of other phenomena, including social influence, attitude formation, stereotyping, and group dynamics. The accuracy of rumors, and the effect of rumors on the behavior of groups, are of high importance to the international intelligence community. Although rumor can be false, it is a useful tool to adapt to ambiguous situations and potential threats.
One of the most important reasons to control rumors is to prevent the misuse of them. Rumor mongering is illegal. A rumormonger is a person who uses rumors to manipulate other people and the environment. Other forms of rumor mongering include the creation of rumors to affect an organization’s reputation, to deceive others, or to negatively manipulate trainees.
The word rumor originated in the Latin rumorem, which means noise or nonsense. Rumors are the opposite of gossip. Gossip involves juicy detail and is generally spread behind a person’s back. Likewise, rumor is spread by someone with little or no credibility. While there are exceptions, rumors are generally considered to be the most unreliable sources of information.
During Hurricane Katrina, rumors of terrorist attacks swept the nation. There have also been rumors of candidates withdrawing from elections. Regardless of whether rumors are true or not, they can make an individual feel stupid. And when a rumor is confirmed, it can result in riots.
According to Merriam-Webster, the term rumor has several definitions, but the most common is “a statement that is not confirmed.” Typically, rumors are false or ambiguous, and can be passed from one person to another. Usually, rumors are accompanied by other rumors, but they can be a single rumor.