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Urban Legends: Why Do People Believe Them?

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Urban Legends: Why Do People Believe Them?
Cantrell, Mary
This study answers questions about why some people believe urban legends and why these legends continue to thrive in today’s society. Despite displaying the tell-tale signs of an urban legend and the number of websites and other sources available for a quick check of the legitimacy of a legend, new stories are often believed and passed on with little afterthought. It is not necessary to believe a legend to pass it on nor is an urban legend necessarily false, although the majority of them are untrue. The targets of legends are often businesses, particularly market leaders, and politicians or other prominent individuals which makes urban legends particularly attractive to the general public. Urban Legends provide an outlet for people in a number of different ways. For the person who does not believe a legend he has received, participating in the distribution of it will fulfill another need: breaking boredom, providing a social outlet or allowing the sharer to feel helpful. For others, believing in a particular legend is an emotional response. Legends can feed into the fears, anxieties, and biases a person may feel toward the subject matter or society in general thus providing them with emotional gratification.
urban legends
social psychology
modern rumor theory
emotional selection
Mitra, Ananda (committee chair)
Llewellyn, John (committee member)
Petrocelli, John (committee member)
2010-05-05T15:27:44Z (accessioned)
2010-06-18T18:58:43Z (accessioned)
2010-05-05T15:27:44Z (available)
2010-06-18T18:58:43Z (available)
2010-05-05T15:27:44Z (issued)
MALS (Liberal Studies) (discipline)
http://hdl.handle.net/10339/14790 (uri)
en_US (iso)
Wake Forest University
Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide. (accessRights)

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