Rumors denials as persuasive messages: Effects of personal relevance, source, and message characteristics

Prashant Bordia*, Nicholas Difonzo, Robin Haines, Elizabeth Chaseling

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Citations (Scopus)


Denial is a commonly used strategy to rebut a false rumor. However, there is a dearth of empirical research on the effectiveness of denials in combating rumors. Treating denials as persuasive messages, we conducted 3 laboratory-based simulation studies testing the overall effectiveness of denials in reducing belief and anxiety associated with an e-mail virus rumor. Under the framework of the elaboration likelihood model, we also tested the effects of denial message quality and source credibility, and the moderating effects of personal relevance. Overall, the results provided some support for the effectiveness of denials with strong arguments and an anxiety-alleviating tone in reducing rumor-related belief and anxiety. The effects of denial wording and source credibility were visible for participants who perceived high personal relevance of the topic. Limitations of the current research and future research directions are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1301-1331
Number of pages31
JournalJournal of Applied Social Psychology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2005
Externally publishedYes

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