This thesis extends social-psychological theories of rumor belief and transmission
to the study of mass communication. In particular, this study uses a mixed-design
experiment with a sample of 90 college students to 1) compare the effects of
television and newspaper coverage on believability and intended transmission of
two prominent rumors; and 2) assess the role of personal relevance (high vs. low)
in determining rumor effects. In addition, four OLS regression models explored
the impact of anxiety, personal relevance, and uncertainty on rumor belief and
transmission. Results provide some support for the hypothesis that rumors
reported on television are more believable and are more likely to be transmitted
than rumors reported in newspapers. Evidence also points to personal relevance
as an important factor as the highly relevant rumor created more anxiety and
intention to transmit than did the low-relevance rumor. Additionally, personal
relevance was found to be the only significant predictor of intended rumor
transmission. Perhaps most importantly, findings here indicate that people are
willing to transmit rumors that they do not believe. Results and implications are
discussed in the context of rumors reported in the news.
University of Minnesota M.A. thesis. June 2010. Major: Mass Communication. Advisor: Brian G. Southwell. 1 computer file (PDF); vi, 108 pages, appendix A.
Weeks, Brian Edward.
The roles of personal relevance, anxiety, and source medium in understanding belief and transmission of rumors in the News..
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