What are rumors as a psychological phenomenon?

Historically, the emergence of mass behavior was associated with the functioning of channels of informal information, in particular, rumors and gossip. Rumors have always existed. They can not be eradicated and banned. That is why many studies are aimed at studying the characteristics of the formation and distribution of rumors. After all, it allows you to control the mass consciousness.
Rumors are always unreliable information. In the process of their circulation, any, even truthful information, goes through a series of transformations. These include smoothing, sharpening and adaptation. The smoothing mechanism implies that in the process of circulation the details that are not essential for the group disappear, and the plot is shortened. On the other hand, the plot is enriched with new details, and its individual components are absent. Finally, the information adapts to the stereotypes and attitudes of the group, which ultimately changes the psychological content.
Rumors can be formed from the outside purposefully as well as spontaneously.Important conditions for the formation of rumors are their relevance to the audience, the presence of interest in the problem concerned, as well as a lack of information on this topic. So, obviously, information about a possible shortage of milk in Latin America cannot go to the category of Russian rumors. Such a rumor will not be of interest to society and it is unlikely that anyone will pass it on. At the same time, the most incredible information on the verge of science fiction, which corresponds to the interests of society, may well turn into a category of rumors.
Another important part of the emergence of rumors is the lack of information needs. The government can specifically hush up information in order to prevent panic among the population. In fact, this can become a ground for spreading rumors and only strengthen panic. Often the appearance of rumors contributes not only to the lack of information, but also distrust of the source of its dissemination. For example, to official media or political leaders.
According to the formula of Allport -Postman, there is a rumor of interest in the topic, multiplied by the lack of information. It turns out that when one of the components is zero, the rumor will not become widespread.
Rumors arise and spread to meet the needs of people.An important psychological function of rumors is emotional discharge. Therefore, rumors often arise in conditions of psychological stress. On the other hand, the spread of rumors can help meet the need for emotional saturation. A favorable factor for the formation of rumors is the desire of people to experience something unusual in life, to see any sensation.
Also on the spread of rumors affects their exponential closeness and exclusive information. Many people are pushed to spread rumors by the desire to increase their prestige and social status in the eyes of others.

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