Something's Going on Here: Psychological Predictors of Belief in Conspiracy Theories

Hart, J., & Graether, M. "Something’s going on here: Psychological Predictors of Belief in Conspiracy Theories" Journal of Individual Differences, Forthcoming

30 Pages Posted: 23 May 2018

Date Written: May 10, 2018

Abstract

Research on individual-difference factors predicting belief in conspiracy theories has proceeded along several independent lines that converge on a profile of conspiracy believers as individuals who are relatively untrusting, ideologically eccentric, concerned about personal safety, and prone to perceiving agency in actions and profundity in bullshit. The present research represents the first attempt at an integrative approach to testing the independent contributions of these diverse factors to conspiratorial thinking. Two studies (N=1,253) found that schizotypy, dangerous-world beliefs, and bullshit receptivity independently and additively predict endorsement of generic (i.e., nonpartisan) conspiracy beliefs. Results suggest that “hyperactive” agency detection and political orientation (and related variables) might also play a role. The studies found no effects of situational threats (mortality salience or a sense of powerlessness)—though it remains to be seen whether real-world instantiations of situational threats might move some people to seek refuge in conspiratorial ideation.

Suggested Citation

Hart, Joshua and Graether, Molly, Something's Going on Here: Psychological Predictors of Belief in Conspiracy Theories (May 10, 2018). Hart, J., & Graether, M. "Something’s going on here: Psychological Predictors of Belief in Conspiracy Theories" Journal of Individual Differences, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3176533

Joshua Hart (Contact Author)

Union College ( email )

Schenectady, NY 12308-3151
United States

Molly Graether

Union College ( email )

Schenectady, NY 12308-3151
United States

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