2017 Volume 57 Issue 1 Pages 1-11
Rumors questioning the safety of food products promote anxiety among people, leading to mass boycott, and hence serious economic damage. This study explored this function of rumors amongst friends. A total of 312 female participants were randomly assigned to one of the following three conditions, and were asked to respond to a scale for evaluating rumor function (Takenaka, 2013). The conditions consisted of a fictitious scenario depicting radioactive tainted milk, and how the rumor was transmitted: 1) the news; 2) anonymous Twitter post by a stranger; or 3) through conversation with a close friend. Participants reported that greater information gathering and information provision functions were present in the news condition compared to the Twitter; and 2) that participants expected the rumor fosters conversation with friends more in the news condition than in the close friend. These results suggested that people tend to use information from news media in conversation with friends, because such information was perceived to be more reliable than other resources.