Urban legends are stories that are widely shared, often enhanced over time, and thought to be true by those who tell them. These stories are often used to explain natural phenomena, to explain why certain events happen, or to scare people (Gonzalez-Crussi, 2009).

Urban legends are found in many cultures around the world, but they vary in content and structure. In the Western world, for instance, urban legends often involve mysterious creatures, supernatural phenomena, and other bizarre occurrences (Gonzalez-Crussi, 2009). In other cultures, however, urban legends may focus on the supernatural or on particular historical events, such as wars or disasters (Gonzalez-Crussi, 2009).

Urban legends often have a moral or cautionary message. For example, a common urban legend in the United States is that of the “hook man,” a murderer with a hook in place of one of his hands (Gonzalez-Crussi, 2009). This story is typically used to caution against going to dark and isolated places. In other cultures, urban legends may be used to pass on cultural values and traditions (Gonzalez-Crussi, 2009).

Urban legends are usually spread orally, but they can also spread through other mediums, such as books, movies, and the internet. This can lead to the urban legend being distorted or exaggerated over time (Gonzalez-Crussi, 2009). This is especially true of stories that are adapted from other sources, such as books, movies, and television shows (Gonzalez-Crussi, 2009).

Urban legends can have both positive and negative effects on society. On the one hand, they can be used to pass on important cultural values and traditions. On the other hand, they can be used to spread fear and misinformation. It is important to distinguish between true and false stories in order to avoid being misled by urban legends.


Gonzalez-Crussi, F. (2009). Urban Legends: A Cultural History. New York: TarcherPerigee.

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