The Impact of Identification on the Effectiveness of Refutation as a Counter-Rumor Strategy
Rumors, if they contain negative information about the rumor object, can be particularly dangerous for the reputation of a brand or firm. Therefore, firms often try to convince consumers of the falseness of a rumor which negatively impacts the organization or brand. However, previous research on the effectiveness of rumor-refutation generated mixed results. In their seminal study on the refutation of a rumor that McDonald’s uses worm meat in its hamburgers Tybout, Calder and Sternthal (1981) found that a refutational approach was ineffective. However, other research on rumor refutation showed that refuting a rumor can be effective (Bordia, DiFonzo, and Schulz 2000; Iyer and Debevec 1991). DiFonzo and Bordia (2007) reporting on a meta-analysis of eight studies which used a refutation strategy to reduce belief in a rumor found a “moderate” but positive effect size, but with great heterogeneity. Such variance, they argued, suggests that moderating variables could explain the discrepancies. Our research sheds light on one of those moderating variables for refutation effectiveness.