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Keywords:

  • Conspiracies;
  • anomie;
  • authoritarianism;
  • self-esteem

This study used canonical correlation to examine the relationship of 11 individual difference variables to two measures of beliefs in conspiracies. Undergraduates were administered a questionnaire that included these two measures (beliefs in specific conspiracies and attitudes toward the existence of conspiracies) and scales assessing the 11 variables. High levels of anomie, authoritarianism, and powerlessness, along with a low level of self-esteem, were related to beliefs in specific conspiracies, whereas high levels of external locus of control and hostility, along with a low level of trust, were related to attitudes toward the existence of conspiracies in general. These findings support the idea that beliefs in conspiracies are related to feelings of alienation, powerlessness, hostility, and being disadvantaged. There was no support for the idea that people believe in conspiracies because they provide simplified explanations of complex events.