Governing the grapevine: the study of rumor during World War II

Hist Psychol. 2007 Feb;10(1):1-21. doi: 10.1037/1093-4510.10.1.1.


Throughout the early 1940s, a host of rumors relating to the Second World War began to circulate, leading the government to establish various committees and undertake multiple projects intended to counteract rumors that were believed to threaten civilian morale and compromise national security. Simultaneously, social scientists also began taking measures to study and combat rumor. Such efforts included the institution of several community groups, deemed "rumor clinics," that aimed to decrease the prevalence of wartime rumor by educating the general public. This article outlines the rise and fall of rumor clinics, focusing specifically on the shifting boundaries and the mounting tensions between the United States government and social scientists in the study of rumor during World War II.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Deception*
  • History, 20th Century
  • Psychology, Social / history*
  • Security Measures / history*
  • United States
  • World War II*