A rumor is an unsubstantiated story that spreads from person to person. It can be about a person, a group or an event. Some rumors are positive, others are negative or even downright harmful. There are many reasons that people choose to start a rumor including jealousy, envy or being upset with a current situation in their life. Regardless of the reason it is important to recognize that a rumor is not a truth and does not necessarily reflect how a person really is.
A good way to combat a rumor is to dispel it as soon as possible. This is especially important if the rumor has an impact on your work or school life. For example, if your coworkers are spreading a rumor that you aren’t working hard or you are breaking company policy you should correct the rumor as soon as it is brought to your attention.
If you have a personal relationship with the person who started the rumor try to get to the bottom of their motivations for starting it. Often times it is because they are insecure about themselves and want to feel powerful by putting others down. You may be able to help them see the harm in what they are doing by treating them with kindness and love. It can also be beneficial to use a bit of humor to show them how absurd the rumor is.
While it is true that some rumors do have a kernel of truth to them, most are false. There are a number of different factors that can affect the accuracy of a rumor, including cognitive mechanisms that narrow attention, memory limits and perceptual biases. Also, social network transmission patterns can play a role in rumor accuracy. For example, students who serially transmitted rumors in one laboratory study were more likely to pass along information that was consistent with stereotypes.
Another variable that affects a rumor is its level of believability and the emotions it invokes in those who hear it. For example, if someone hears a gruesome rumor about an ex-boyfriend that is very likely to cause a negative emotional response.
Other factors that can affect a rumor are the credibility of the source, how relevant it is to people’s lives and whether or not it is accompanied by evidence. In general, a rumor will be more credible if it is based on a true event and more likely to be believed if the rumor is confirmed by a trusted source.
As a final note, a good strategy for minimizing the impact of a rumor is to counteract it with truthful and positive news. This will help to put the rumor in perspective and give those who heard it a more accurate view of the person or event involved. In addition, it is helpful to keep in mind that a rumor will tend to disappear quickly if the source is revealed. This is because the teller will be embarrassed and/or ashamed for what they have done.