Created on: January 12, 2013
The psychology of conspiracy theory is something that is increasingly of interest to a number of social psychologists, because conspiracy theories are constantly being shared and debated by a significant number of individuals. A conspiracy theorist is someone who doggedly persists in believing that the public are deliberately being misled and the truth is being ing covered up. Most conspiracy theories rely on an assumption that all governments and big powerful organizations have a hidden agenda.
Most conspiracy theories concern world changing events. The first moon landings and the terrorist attacks of 9/11 are regarded with doubt and suspicion by those who believe in secret government conspiracies. Sudden deaths tragedies such as the death of Princess Diana and the assassination of John F. Kennedy have also famously been subject to conspiracy theories.
Social psychologists are now doing more research into reasons why people want to believe or feel the need to believe in conspiracy theories. According to Dr. Jovan Byford, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the Open University, it is only since the 1990s that the psychology of conspiracy theory has been systematically subject to serious research.
In his paper on the psychology of conspiracy theories Dr. Byford concludes that because defending conspiracy theories is a “social activity,” the main object of psychological study should be based around “the structure, logic and evolution of conspiracy theories, with a view to explaining how and why this tradition of explanation persists in modern society, and how it sustains distinct forms of individual and collective thought and action.”
Why people believe conspiracy theories
In April 2012 a symposium took place on "The Psychology of Belief in Conspiracy Theories" at the British Psychological Society's Annual Conference in London, where Professor Chris French of the Anomalistic Psychology Research University at Goldsmiths University explained that to most people “big events need big causes.” He also suggested that conspiracy theory is most likely to appeal to those who feel marginalised. Belief in conspiracy theories leads to feelings of possessing inside knowledge about what is happening in the world.
Why people need conspiracy theories
Following the 9/11 terrorist attack on the Twin Towers
Below are the top articles rated and ranked by Helium members on:
The psychology behind conspiracy theories