Aug 25, 2008

The psychology of rumors and how it starts.


Let me quote a scholarly definition of what rumor is based on on a research entitled: Rumor and Gossip Research by American Psychological Association.
Rumors have been described as public communications that are infused with private hypotheses about how the world works (Rosnow, 1991), or more specifically, ways of making sense to help us cope with our anxieties and uncertainties (Rosnow, 1988, 2001).
Rumors are unsupported claim for certain occurrences and it is brought about by our mind's ability and eagerness to understand incomplete information. To make sense of things, we tend to "fill-in" the missing pieces and draw a picture from those.
To give this theory a test, say for example I ask you to fill-in the missing letters below to form a word. I will not say how many letters you need to "fill-in", or even if the words are related. Just fill-in and make sense of the following words based on your own understanding. Go ahead and give it a try and see if you can guess what I intend the word to be.

red, exciting, hot, f___k

I know what you're thinking but it's not what you think it is. Ninety percent (90%) of all people I asked answered UC between the letters given above and this has just proven my point. So what's is the answer? Read on.

So how does rumors start in the office?

Rumors can come only in two ways. One, from speculation (as with the exercise above) and two; intentionally manufactured stories often with ill intent. In most cases, it start with the former.
Rumors starts from an office employee seeing or over-hearing information that is incomplete and "fills in the blanks" according to what he or she thinks.
An office employee seeing someone on the records room (like the one pictured above) may understand the scenario differently, puts malice to it and spreads the wrong information around. So, before the day ends, the two staff who came from the records room suddenly gets the full attention of the entire company. Halaka!

My Advice: Rumors is as old and part of the human psyche. There is no way you can stop people from making wrongful speculations however, you can always stop and think first before believing. Remember, ninety percent (90%) of rumors are all wrong and are downright malicious.

ANSWER: f iretruc k (Gotcha didn't I?)

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