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How to Spread a Rumor

Got some information you want to circulate quickly and extensively? Learn what it takes to get people to pass it along.


  • Step 1: Keep it simple. Research shows that rumors are more likely to spread if they are uncomplicated.
  • TIP: Keep the cruelty in check. Remember that rumors have the potential to ruin reputations.
  • Step 2: Include a vivid detail that is easy to envision, which helps plant the story in people's minds, as well as making it easier to believe.
  • Step 3: Make sure the story is difficult to disprove, so a little fact checking doesn't stop it in its tracks.
  • Step 4: Make it shocking, but feasible. Rumors that spread quickly are bizarre enough to be titillating, but not so outlandish as to be unbelievable.
  • TIP: A rumor that preys on a specific fear is more likely to be passed on.
  • Step 5: Give it a "testable credential" -- a detail that can be proven, even if it doesn't prove the story itself.
  • Step 6: Get the ball rolling by telling it to someone gullible. Extra points if they also have a big mouth.
  • Step 7: Keep the story alive by repeating it often. Research shows that the more we hear a rumor, the more we'll believe it -- even if we're being told it's false!
  • FACT: Researchers have found that workplace rumors are about 95 percent accurate.

You Will Need

  • Juicy story
  • Testable credential
  • Gullible person
  • Repetition
  • Fear-mongering (optional)

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