How likely is it that someone will believe conspiracy theories?

How likely is it that someone will believe conspiracy theories?

Vitriol and Jessecae K. Marsh, an associate professor of psychology at Lehigh University, have found new research that inflated confidence in one’s understanding of politics and public policy is associated with the tendency to believe in political conspiracies.

That is, people who overestimate how well they understand politics are more likely to believe that hidden actors or clandestine groups are conspiring in wide-ranging activities to influence important world actions, events, and outcomes.

For the research Vitriol and Marsh asked participants to rate how well they thought they understood a series of public policies. They then asked those participants to provide as detailed an explanation as they could for how the policies actually worked.

After generating these explanations, participants re-rated their confidence in their understanding of the policies.

Marsh explains that the act of trying to explain a phenomenon reveals to participants how little they actually understand about the policies, resulting in a reduction in self-reported understanding ratings. “Participants who had high levels of confidence in their understanding of public policies after generating an explanation were more likely to endorse political conspiracies, especially if they also lacked accurate knowledge of political phenomena,” she adds.

Source: New research predicts likelihood that one will believe conspiracy theories


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