1932

Abstract

Conspiracy theories are abundant in social and political discourse, with serious consequences for individuals, groups, and societies. However, psychological scientists have started paying close attention to them only in the past 20 years. We review the spectacular progress that has since been made and some of the limitations of research so far, and we consider the prospects for further progress. To this end, we take a step back to analyze the defining features that make conspiracy theories different in kind from other beliefs and different in degree from each other. We consider how these features determine the adoption, consequences, and transmission of belief in conspiracy theories, even though their role as causal or moderating variables has seldom been examined. We therefore advocate for a research agenda in the study of conspiracy theories that starts—as is routine in fields such as virology and toxicology—with a robust descriptive analysis of the ontology of the entity at its center.

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2023-01-18
2024-04-24
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