Belief in Conspiracy Theories and Susceptibility to the Conjunction Fallacy
Article first published online: 15 JAN 2014
Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Applied Cognitive Psychology
Volume 28, Issue 2, pages 238–248, March/April 2014
How to Cite
Brotherton, R. and French, C. C. (2014), Belief in Conspiracy Theories and Susceptibility to the Conjunction Fallacy. Appl. Cognit. Psychol., 28: 238–248. doi: 10.1002/acp.2995
- Issue published online: 6 MAR 2014
- Article first published online: 15 JAN 2014
- Manuscript Accepted: 4 DEC 2013
- Manuscript Revised: 28 NOV 2013
- Manuscript Received: 7 JUN 2013
- Economic and Social Research Council. Grant Number: ES/I90249X
People who believe in the paranormal have been found to be particularly susceptible to the conjunction fallacy. The present research examines whether the same is true of people who endorse conspiracy theories. Two studies examined the association between conspiracist ideation and the number of conjunction violations made in a variety of contexts (neutral, paranormal and conspiracy). Study 1 found that participants who endorsed a range of popular conspiracy theories more strongly also made more conjunction errors than participants with weaker conspiracism, regardless of the contextual framing of the conjunction. Study 2, using an independent sample and a generic measure of conspiracist ideation, replicated the finding that conspiracy belief is associated with domain-general susceptibility to the conjunction fallacy. The findings are discussed in relation to the association between conspiracism and other anomalous beliefs, the representativeness heuristic and the tendency to infer underlying causal relationships connecting ostensibly unrelated events. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.