Rumors What are they, how are they formed and how to stop them?

David Holt
Rumors What are they, how are they formed and how to stop them?

Rumors circulate everywhere, in all places and on all sites, sometimes they are true, but at other times they are not, the only thing they have in common is that they cannot be verified. In most cases, rumors seek to discredit people or companies. As well as doing harm or achieving goals that would not otherwise be achieved. But how do rumors work? Who initiates them? How are they transmitted? Why are they created if they cannot be verified? Let's see it.


  • What is the rumor about
  • How rumors are spread
  • Effects of rumors and how to deal with them
    • Prevent before cure
    • Identify the rumor
    • Analyze the reason for the rumors
  • Conclusions

What is the rumor about

First of all, you have to understand what a rumor is. Knapp (1944), defined them as "a proposal to believe a popular topic without official verification". That is, someone proposes us at some point to believe something that cannot be verified, at least at that moment, and we can believe it or not.

Later in 1951, Peter and Gist added that these circulate from person to person and that they refer to an objective, event or matter of public interest (although it should be private). Rumors arise if two conditions are met. On the one hand, the informative ambiguity about a content. On the other hand, that the matter is of importance, so knowing this, and avoiding it, we can begin to control rumors..

How rumors are spread

To check how rumors were transmitted, experiments were carried out by Allport and Postman (1967), who revealed the following transmission laws:

  • Leveling: This law postulates that as the rumor is transmitted, it tends to narrow down and define itself. That is, it becomes more concrete but it does not mean that it is more real..
  • Accentuation: Rumors selectively retain a number of details that are transmitted and accentuated in the transmission.
  • Assimilation: As rumors pass through individuals they "rearrange" them. In this way they are given meaning and become more congruent with the central theme of the rumor. The next individual to whom it is transmitted will do the same again.

Leon Festinger, also enriched the knowledge about rumors by adding his two principles:

  • The principle of cognitive darkness. It tells us that rumors arise in situations important to immediate behavior that are really unstructured.
  • The principle of integrative explanation. It talks about that once the central theme of the rumor is accepted by the group, everything that is not conclusive with this theme will be distorted to make it congruent and consistent with it..

Effects of rumors and how to deal with them

The effects of a rumor spreading are well known, both in companies and in the personal sphere, and that in short they translate into damage. By knowing how they are and how they are formed, we can face rumors and try to stop them through the following strategies.

Prevent before cure

If you are a manager of a company, a manager or someone similar, to avoid forming rumors, try not to give ambiguous or incomplete information, the way to complete it will be with rumors. It is better to be honest or not omit information, than to allow false information to be believed and do more harm than the real one could do. When the rumor is personal, it is more difficult to prevent, however, it is the same. Avoid ambiguous and incomplete messages on matters of public concern and be honest. Try not to slander, that can lead to rumors.

Identify the rumor

If you are late and the rumors are already underway, what you should do is identify the rumor. If it is a corporate rumor, the ideal is to tell what is really happening. What we tell should be consistent with the central theme of the rumor. In this way, we will silence the rumor with an official and real communication.

A good tip to prevent rumors, know them, identify them if they exist and stop them is to use internal social networks within the organization such as Honey or Gointegro. If it is a personal rumor, you must identify whether it is serious or not, and requires your attention. In case it is affecting you or your reputation, the most advisable thing is that you take legal measures to stop it against those people who spread it.

Analyze the reason for the rumors

Analyze the reason for the rumor, especially in the corporate arena. Rumors often arise because there is an unmet need, or a person who needs to get noticed for something in particular. Try to analyze the situation, find the why and try to find measures so that they do not happen again by satisfying those needs or by talking with the person in question to understand their motivation. If we see that the situation is too complicated, it may be necessary to set limits with some people.

They can do a lot of damage to the image of a company. The worst thing is that on many occasions they come from within. Therefore, preventing by training your team, teaching them to be assertive and creating a healthy organizational culture, will be the most appropriate to avoid the bad consequences of corporate rumors..


In conclusion, rumors can do a lot of damage, both personal and corporate. We have seen that just as fire also needs fuel and oxidizer to exist, rumors need ambiguity in the matter, and importance for the diffusers. So if we remove any of those two factors, the rumor will be extinguished, just like a fire if you remove the fuel or oxidizer..

We have also seen that the most important thing to avoid them is to prevent them and some ways to prevent them can be to create a healthy corporate culture open to diversity. Trying not to create ambiguity or promote assertive communication is a good line of work. Without a doubt, if you work on these aspects, corporate rumors will not arise.

Yet No Comments