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

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

Everywhere, in all places and rumors circulate everywhere, sometimes they are true, but sometimes not, all they have in common is that cannot be verified. In most cases rumors seek discredit people or companies. As well as hurting or achieving objectives that would not otherwise be achieved. But how do rumors work? Who starts them? How are they transmitted? Why do they believe if they can't be checked? Let's see it.


  • 1 What is the rumor about
  • 2 How rumors are transmitted
  • 3 Effects of rumors and how to deal with them
  • 4 Conclusions

What is the rumor?

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

Later in 1951, Peter Y Gist They 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. For the other, that the matter is of importance, so knowing this, and avoiding it we can begin to control rumors.

How rumors are transmitted

To verify how the rumors were transmitted, experiments were carried out by Allport Y Postman (1967), who released the following transmission laws:

  • Leveling: This law postulates that as the rumor is transmitted, it tends to be bounded and defined. That is, it becomes more concrete but does not mean that it is more real.
  • Accentuation: The rumors selectively retain a number of details that are transmitted and accentuated in the transmission.
  • Assimilation: As rumors pass through individuals they "reorganize" them. In this way they make sense 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 the rumors by adding his two principles:

  • The principle of cognitive darkness. It indicates that rumors arise in situations that are important for immediate behavior that are really unstructured.
  • The principle of integrative explanation. He speaks of that once the central theme of the rumor is accepted by the group, everything that is inconclusive with this theme will be distorted to make it consistent 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 translate to damage. By knowing how they are and how they are formed, we can face the rumors and try to stop them through the following strategies.

Prevent rather than cure

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

Identify the rumor

If you're late and the rumors are already underway, what you should do is Identify the rumor. If it's a corporate rumor, the ideal is to tell what is really happening. What we have must 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 advice to prevent rumors, to know them, to identify them if they exist and to stop them is to use internal social networks within the organization such as Honey or Gointegro. If it's a personal rumor, you must identify if it is serious or not, and it requires your attention. In case it is affecting you or your reputation, it is advisable to take legal measures to stop it against those who propagate it.

Analyze the reason for the rumors

Analyze the reason for the rumor, especially in the corporate sphere. Rumors usually arise because there is an unmet need, or a person who needs to draw attention to something in particular. Try to analyze the situation, find the reason and try to find measures so that they do not happen again satisfying those needs or dialoguing 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 part is that many times they come from within. Therefore, prevent training your team, teaching them to be assertive and creating a healthy organizational culture, it 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 like fire also needs fuel and oxidizer to exist, rumors need ambiguity in the matter, and importance for broadcasters. So if we remove any of those two factors, the rumor will be extinguished, just like a fire if you take away the fuel or the 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. Try not to create ambiguity or promote a Assertive communication is a good line of work. Without a doubt, if you work on these aspects, corporate rumors will not arise.