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Also known as the grape vine, the RumourMill occurs when too many rumours are flying around. Rumours by themselves aren't devastating(*), but if the majority of information is speculative, often in this overly dramatic, negative, cynical way, things are going badly. A solid injection of real information is needed. Contrast FairProcess.
(*) From L. Hirschhorn "Managing Rumours" in L. Hirschhorn (ed.), Cutting Back; Redevelopment in Human and Community Services ISBN 0875895689 (alternate, search) pp. 49-52, the evidence shows that 75 percent of rumours are accurate. Moreover, rumours often serve to
- Structure and reduce anxiety
- Make sense of limited or fragmented information
- Serve as a vehicle to organize group members or outsiders into coalitions
- Signal a sender's status or power (i.e. I'm inside the loop, whilst you are not)
and arise in situations that
- are important to us,
- are ambiguous, or
- cause anxiety
Rumours serve to show what people care about, even though only about 10% of people actively propogate them.
The above adapted from Organization Behaviour--Concepts, Controversies, Applications (2nd Canadian ed.) by Robbins and Langton, pp. 284-5. ISBN 0138574596 (alternate, search), new edition ISBN 0130166804 (alternate, search)
See also PhonyFlood