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Why do people believe in conspiracy theories? Show more Show less
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Studies show that the majority of people believe in at least one conspiracy theory. They’re becoming increasingly pervasive in our everyday lives, with it not being uncommon to hear conspiracy theories coming from commanders-in-chief. Why would someone believe something that others perceive as crazy?

People believe in conspiracy theories for psychological reasons Show more Show less

A large body of scientific evidence suggest conspiracy believers are often psychologically unbalanced.
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There is a 'Conspiracy Mentality' that predisposes people to believe in conspiracy theories

Some scholars believe that there may be such a thing as a tendency toward “conspiracy thinking,” or a general “conspiracy mindset”

Context

People who believe in conspiracy theories are probably not just passionate radicals seeking an explanation for the unknown. Rather, these individuals share a series of psychological features which predispose them to conspiracy theories.[1]

The Argument

Individuals resort to conspiracy theories when traditional narratives are insufficient. But, there is a set of shared characteristics forming the “conspiracy mentality” which predisposes individuals to believe in conspiracy theories. High levels of anxiety act as the most prominent characteristic for the “conspiracy mentality.” Conspiracy theories appeal to anxious individuals as an explanation to the uncertain, usually alleviating tension in the process. In addition to anxiety, high levels of stress engender similar reactions for individuals to resort to conspiracies. Times of despair and national unrest only augment tension for anxious or distressed people, increasing their reliance on conspiracy theories. [2] [3] Individuals distanced from society also share characteristics of the “conspiracy mentality.” Alienation from mainstream society includes the aversion to mainstream beliefs, therefore calling for the belief in radical conspiracy theories. [2] Lastly, unusual stubbornness can be another trait of the “conspiracy mentality.” Belligerent individuals may be so opposed to the accepted belief that they shape their own narrative solely to disagree with the norms. These narratives usually take the form of conspiracy theories acting as a symbol of disagreement with mainstream media.[2]

Counter arguments

Many individuals believe in conspiracy theories without sharing the “conspiracy mentality,” Such individuals believe in one or a few conspiracy theories for a satisfying explanation of a complicated matter. Unless these individuals share aspects of the “conspiracy mentality,” they will not be predisposed to resort to conspiracy theories. Believing in a conspiracy theory does not indicate a predisposition to commonly accept conspiracy theories.

Proponents

Premises

Rejecting the premises

References

  1. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/people-drawn-to-conspiracy-theories-share-a-cluster-of-psychological-features/
  2. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00205/full
  3. https://school.eb.com/levels/high/article/conspiracy-theory/604127

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This page was last edited on Sunday, 13 Sep 2020 at 19:35 UTC

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