Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Does it take one to know one? New research reveals conspiring conspiracy theorists

Date:
May 4, 2011
Source:
University of Kent
Summary:
Conspiracy theories -- such as those surrounding the death of Princess Diana -- are more likely to be believed by people who are willing themselves to conspire, new research has shown.

Conspiracy theories -- such as those surrounding the death of Princess Diana -- are more likely to be believed by people who are willing themselves to conspire, new research at the University of Kent has shown.

Related Articles


In a paper to be published in the British Journal of Social Psychology, Dr Karen Douglas and Dr Robbie Sutton, two researchers from the University's School of Psychology, found that - in keeping with the psychological process called projection -- an individual's perception that "I would do it" informs his or her perception that "they did it."

The research, titled Does it take one to know one? Endorsement of conspiracy theories is influenced by personal willingness to conspire, considered the responses of around 250 UK undergraduates to 17 major alleged conspiracies, such as the 'assassinations' of Princess Diana and John F. Kennedy, the 'faking' of the moon landings and the 'orchestration' of the 9/11 attacks by the US government.

In the first study, participants were asked whether they would personally play a role in such conspiracies, if they had been in a position to do so. An example of this was 'If you were in the position of the government, would you have ordered the attack on the Twin Towers?' The more that participants indicated a willingness to conspire, the more they found the same conspiracy theories to be plausible, interesting, and worth considering.

Further, the researchers found that participants who were highly Machiavellian -- defined as willing to exploit others for personal gain -- were more likely to indicate willingness to conspire, and as a result, were more likely to believe in conspiracy theories.

In the second study, half of the participants were asked to remember a time that they had helped someone. The research team reasoned that this would temporarily enhance participants' sense that they are moral people. As expected, these participants, when compared to a control group, were less willing to conspire, and as a result, were less likely to take conspiracy theories seriously.

'We wanted to test a new explanation of why conspiracy theories are endorsed in an internet age when people have access to a matrix of often conflicting information from a variety of sources,' said Dr Douglas.

'We found that in their search for explanations under such uncertain and confusing conditions, people rely partly on projection -- the assumption that others would behave much as they would.

'We're not saying however that all conspiracy theorists are immoral or that they have arrived at their beliefs through projection. It's important to note that other factors may lead people to believe in conspiracy theories. Also, our research says nothing about the truth or objective plausibility of such theories. However what we have shown is that one reason some people endorse conspiracy theories is because is they project their own moral tendencies onto the supposed conspirators', she said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Kent. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Karen M. Douglas, Robbie M. Sutton. Does it take one to know one? Endorsement of conspiracy theories is influenced by personal willingness to conspire. British Journal of Social Psychology, 2011; DOI: 10.1111/j.2044-8309.2010.02018.x

Cite This Page:

University of Kent. "Does it take one to know one? New research reveals conspiring conspiracy theorists." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 May 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110504080730.htm>.
University of Kent. (2011, May 4). Does it take one to know one? New research reveals conspiring conspiracy theorists. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 1, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110504080730.htm
University of Kent. "Does it take one to know one? New research reveals conspiring conspiracy theorists." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110504080730.htm (accessed April 1, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

AAA: Distracted Driving a Serious Teen Problem

AAA: Distracted Driving a Serious Teen Problem

AP (Mar. 25, 2015) While distracted driving is not a new problem for teens, new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety says it&apos;s much more serious than previously thought. (March 25) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Smartphone Use Changing Our Brain and Thumb Interaction, Say Researchers

Smartphone Use Changing Our Brain and Thumb Interaction, Say Researchers

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 25, 2015) European researchers say our smartphone use offers scientists an ideal testing ground for human brain plasticity. Dr Ako Ghosh&apos;s team discovered that the brains and thumbs of smartphone users interact differently from those who use old-fashioned handsets. Jim Drury went to meet him. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Many Don't Know They Have Alzheimer's, But Their Doctors Do

Many Don't Know They Have Alzheimer's, But Their Doctors Do

Newsy (Mar. 24, 2015) According to a new study by the Alzheimer&apos;s Association, more than half of those who have the degenerative brain disease aren&apos;t told by their doctors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
A Quick 45-Minute Nap Can Improve Your Memory

A Quick 45-Minute Nap Can Improve Your Memory

Newsy (Mar. 23, 2015) Researchers found those who napped for 45 minutes to an hour before being tested on information recalled it five times better than those who didn&apos;t. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins