Belief in conspiracy theories: The influence of uncertainty and perceived morality
Article first published online: 17 DEC 2012
Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
European Journal of Social Psychology
Volume 43, Issue 1, pages 109–115, February 2013
How to Cite
van Prooijen, J.-W. and Jostmann, N. B. (2013), Belief in conspiracy theories: The influence of uncertainty and perceived morality. Eur. J. Soc. Psychol., 43: 109–115. doi: 10.1002/ejsp.1922
- Issue published online: 29 JAN 2013
- Article first published online: 17 DEC 2012
- Manuscript Accepted: 22 OCT 2012
- Manuscript Revised: 10 OCT 2012
- Manuscript Received: 23 APR 2012
In the present research, we examined people's tendency to endorse or question belief in conspiracy theories. In two studies, we tested the hypothesis that the perceived morality of authorities influences conspiracy beliefs, particularly when people experience uncertainty. Study 1 revealed that information about the morality of oil companies influenced beliefs that these companies were involved in planning the war in Iraq, but only when uncertainty was made salient. Similar findings were obtained in Study 2, which focused on a bogus newspaper article about a fatal car accident of a political leader in an African country. It is concluded that uncertainty leads people to make inferences about the plausibility or implausibility of conspiracy theories by attending to morality information. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.