Nicholas DiFonzo Headshot

Nicholas DiFonzo

Department of Psychology
College of Liberal Arts

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Nicholas DiFonzo

Department of Psychology
College of Liberal Arts


AB, Lafayette College; MA, Rider College; MA, Ph.D., Temple University


Nicholas DiFonzo, Ph.D. (Temple University, 1994) is Professor of Psychology at Rochester Institute of Technology. He has published over 50 articles, book chapters, encyclopedia entries and technical reports on rumor. His books include Rumor Psychology: Social & Organizational Approaches (written with Prashant Bordia), and The Watercooler Effect: A Psychologist Explores the Extraordinary Power of Rumors. He has been interviewed by numerous radio, TV, newspaper, magazine, and online media, including Talk of The Nation, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal. In 2005 he received a major grant from the National Science Foundation to investigate how rumors self-organize within networks structures. He has also received funding from the Institute for Public Relations to study corporate rumors, their effects, and how top corporate public relations officers handle them. Dr. DiFonzo has served as expert trial witness for corporations and government entities on the topics involving derogatory workplace rumors, malicious product rumors, and slanderous conspiracy rumors. Most recently, he has focused on the topics of rumor accuracy and on interpersonal forgiveness.

POSITIONS HELD: College of Liberal Arts Sponsored Research Support Program Faculty Research Associate, 2012-2014


Areas of Expertise

Currently Teaching

3 Credits
This course is intended for students in the social track. This course explores social psychological phenomena at the level of the individual. This course addresses those domains of social behavior in which cognition plays a major role, including the interface of cognition with overt behavior, affect, and motivation. Among topics covered are the formation, change, and utilization of attitudes, attributions, and stereotypes, person memory, self-regulation, and the origins and consequences of moods and emotions insofar as these interact with cognition. This course also explores the influence of cognition on significant social phenomena such as persuasion, communication, prejudice, social development, and cultural trends. Part of the social track for the psychology degree program.
3 Credits
This course is intended for students in the social track. This course explores social psychological phenomena at the level of the group. It explores intragroup processes such as cohesion, norms, network structure, social influence, task productivity, group decision making and polarization. It also explores intergroup processes, especially those related to intergroup conflict and cooperation, such as social categorization, social identity, and stereotyping.
3 Credits
This course will provide a survey of the emerging field of Positive Psychology. Topics covered will include defining and assessing “the good life”; the relationships between life satisfaction and personal factors such as wealth, education, and longevity; cross-cultural perspectives; virtues and strengths; and biological factors (i.e., genetics and neurological correlates). The focus will be on contemporary empirical psychology literature, though the course will also draw on literature from historical, philosophical, and economic disciplines.
3 Credits
This course is intended for students in the psychology major to develop experimental research expertise and put into practice some of what is learned in Research Methods I and II. Students will explore topics of interest for further research in psychology. They will develop one research idea that could either form the basis for a senior project in psychology or is a valid test of a research idea. Students will be supervised by the course instructor as they develop a research question, conduct a literature review, write the introduction, and examine questions about control, validity and reliability. This course will culminate in a research proposal. Students going on to Senior Project in Psychology can use this as a proposal course and must find their faculty adviser for senior project before they finish this course. Students who are not planning for Senior Project will practice writing a proposal and the related skills required to critically examine an advanced topic in Psychology.
3 Credits
This course explores topics related to behaviors and mental processes of individuals in social situations. Topics include: methodology, social perception, social cognition, the self, attitudes, prejudice, attraction, social influence, pro-social behavior, aggression, and behavior in groups. Course activities include lecture, class demonstrations, and assignments.
3 Credits
This course will serve as an introduction to research methods in psychology, with the goal of understanding research design, analysis and writing. Topics include examining the variety of methods used in psychology research, understanding research eth-ics, developing empirical hypotheses, designing experiments, understanding statistical concepts, interpreting results, and writing research and review papers in APA style. This is a required course for all psychology majors, and is restricted to students in the psychology program.
0 Credits
Practicum open to psychology students. Gives the student first-hand experience in the field of psychology working on research that matches the student's career objectives. Students are closely supervised by a faculty member, developing relevant skills and learning how to do research first-hand. May count for the equivalent of the psychology co-op experience with prior approval and sufficient time commitment. (3rd or 4th year status). Prerequisites PSYC-101, -250, -251. Credit 0 (F, S, Su)

Select Scholarship

Journal Paper
DiFonzo, Nicholas. "A Christian Psychology of Rumor." Journal of Psychology and Christianity 38. 1 (2019): 3-21. Print.
DiFonzo, Nicholas, Anthony Alongi, and Paul Wiele. "Apology, Restitution, and Forgiveness after Psychological Contract Breach." Journal of Business Ethics. (2018): 1-17. Web.
DiFonzo, Nicholas, et al. "Network Structure Moderates Intergroup Differentiation of Stereotyped Rumors." Social Cognition 32. 5 (2014): 409-448. Print.
DiFonzo, N., et al. "Rumor as Revenge in the Workplace." Group & Organization Management 39. (2014): 363-388. Print.
DiFonzo, N., et al. "Network Structure Moderates Intergroup Differentiation of Stereotyped Rumors." Social Cognition 32. 5 (2014): 409-448. Print.
DiFonzo, Nicholas. "The GBN-Dialogue Model of Outgroup-Negative Rumor Transmission: Group Membership, Belief, and Novelty." Nonlinear Dynamics, Psychology, and Life Sciences 17. 2 (2013): 269-293. Print.
DiFonzo, Nicholas, et al. "Rumor Clustering, Consensus, and Polarization: Dynamic Social Impact and Self-organization of Hearsay." Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 49. 3 (2013): 378-399. Print.
DiFonzo, Nicholas. "Rumour Research Can Douse Digital Wildfires." Nature. (2013) Web.
Fine, G. A. and N. DiFonzo. "Uncertain Knowledge." Contexts 10. 3 (2011): 16-21. Print.
Book Chapter
DiFonzo, Nicholas. "Conspiracy Rumor Psychology." Conspiracy Theories and the People Who Believe Them. Ed. Joseph E. Uscinski. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2019. 257-268. Print.
DiFonzo, Nicholas and Prashant Bordia. "Rumors During Organizational Change: A Motivational Analysis." The Psychology of Organisational Change. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 2013. 232-252. Print.
Published Conference Proceedings
DiFonzo, Nicholas. "Framing Unplanned Pregnancy Decision Making within the Theory of Planned Behavior." Proceedings of the University Faculty for Life Annual Conference. Ed. Joseph W. Koterski. Rochester, NY: University Faculty for Life, 2017. Print.
Invited Keynote/Presentation
DiFonzo, N. "Predictors of Forgiveness Seeking." International Meeting of the Christian Association of Psychological Studies. Christian Association of Psychological Studies. Washington, DC. 30 Mar. 2012. Conference Presentation.
Difonzo, N. "Rumor Accuracy: Finding Facts or Fashioning Fallacies?" University of Baltimore Psi Chi Meeting. University of Baltimore Psi Chi Chapter. University of Baltimore, Baltimore, MD. 12 Oct. 2011. Lecture.
Published Article
Stupak, Noah,Nicholas DiFonzo, Andrew J. Younge, and Christopher Homan. “SOCIALSENSE: Graphical User Interface DesignConsiderations for Social NetworkExperiment Software.” Computers in Human Behavior, 26.3 (2010): 365-370. Print. "  É  *
DiFonzo, Nicholas. “Ferretting Facts or Fashioning Fallacies? Factors in Rumor Accuracy.” Social and Personality Compass, 4.11 (2010): 1124-1137. Print. É  *