The psychology of rumour

In his book The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell introduces ‘The Psychology of Rumour’ by the sociologist Gordon Allport (illustrated above).

Allport tells the story of a rumour involving a Chinese teacher who was traveling through Maine on vacation in the summer of 1945, shortly before Japan’s surrender to the Allies at the end of World War II.

The passage demonstrates the three ways in which people adapt stories and pass them on: levelling, sharpening and assimilation. This process forms the basis of how rumours spread.

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