Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

I am currently supervising three PhD students - Darel Cookson, Tanya Schrader and Anna Maughan - on the broad topic of the psychology of conspiracy theories. I welcome PhD students in this field and closely related topics (e.g., misinformation more broadly).

  • Source: Scopus
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Personal profile

Biography

Daniel is a social psychologist who takes a unique experimental approach to study the social psychological consequences of conspiracy theories.

He is a Senior Lecturer in Psychology where he joined the Department of Psychology at Northumbria University in September 2019. He is currently the Programme Leader for the MSc Psychology (Conversion) Distance Learning course. Before joining Northumbria, Daniel has held academic posts at Staffordshire University as a Lecturer in Psychology (2015 - 2017), followed by a promotion to Senior Lecturer in Social Psychology in 2017. Before his lectureship, Daniel was employed as a Research Associate at Lancaster University (2014 - 2015), working alongside Prof. Paul Taylor and partners in industry.

Daniel was awarded his social psychology PhD from the University of Kent in 2015. His PhD aimed to examine and attempt to address the social-psychological consequences of conspiracy theories.  In his current research, he continues to use experimental methods to examine the social consequences of conspiracy theories. He has also tested tools to address the negative impacts of conspiracy theories. He has received research funding from organizations such as the British Academy, alongside being awarded funding for several public engagement events as part of ESRC's Festival of Social Sciences.  

Daniel is a Chartered Psychologist (CPsychol) of the British Psychological Society (BPS), where he is an Executive Committee Member of the BPS Social Psychology Section, alongside being a Fellow of the HEA (FHEA). He is also an active member of an interdisciplinary COST network, Comparative Analysis of Conspiracy Theories.

Daniel has a passion for science communication, where he is often invited to give talks to stakeholders (e.g., Police Communicators at their Annual Conference) and the general public (e.g., Cheltenham Science Festival), and due to the timely and newsworthy nature of his research, he is regularly invited to speak to a variety of media outlets including TV, radio and print/digital media - for example, he has appeared on the popular U.S TV show Adam Ruins Everything; and in the past 12 months his research has been featured on a variety of TV networks including BBC One Show, BBC News, City News (Toronto), CGTN (Europe), alongside being in the New York Times, The Guardian, Financial Times, Huffington Post and Discover Magazine. He has given multiple live radio interviews in 2020, including appearing on BBC Five Live, talkRADIO, BBC Scotland, and more than 25 BBC UK Local stations. The estimated reach of his media engagments in 2020 is over 1 billion people.

Want to learn more about the psychology of conspiracy theories?

Daniel has written for the Conversation on the psychology of conspiracy theories (> 460,000 reads) and blogs at conspiracypsychology.com. He also gives regular public talks, alongside appearing on TV, radio, print/digital media, and podcasts. You can watch some clips under the "Media" tab on his website (www.danieljolley.co.uk). You can also follow Daniel's updates on Twitter.

Daniel and his colleagues have recently developed and validated a conspiracy theory measure suitable for younger populations (BJDP, 2021). You can find more information on the Adolescent Conspiracy Beliefs Questionnaire (ACBQ) here.

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Research interests

In my research, I take a unique experimental approach to studying the social-psychological consequences of conspiracy theories.

Millions of people from across the globe believe in conspiracy theories that explain events as the result of secret, deliberate actions and cover-ups at the hands of powerful and malevolent groups. In the UK, a YouGov Poll has recently shown that 60% of Britons believe in conspiracy theories. My research to date demonstrates that exposure to conspiracy theories may be an important source of disengagement with politics and a lack of concern about the environment (BJP, 2014), and a potential obstacle to child vaccination uptake (PLoSONE, 2014). I have also demonstrated that conspiracy theories may divert attention from inherent limitations of social systems which may reduce, rather than increase, the likelihood of social and political change (Political Psychology, 2018). I have sought to test social psychological techniques to attenuate the impact of anti-vaccine conspiracy theories and found that once a conspiracy theory has taken root, it can be resistant to correction (JASP, 2017). To date, my publications have been cited over 1,000 times (Google Scholar, Jan '21) and I have received grant funding from organizations such as the British Academy.

My research continues to explore important issues, such as examining the causal link between conspiracy theories, prejudice, and discrimination (BJP, 2020), further understanding the link between conspiracy beliefs and violent reactions (BJSP, 2020), and whether the belief that powerful others have conspired may make people more inclined towards unethical actions (BJSP, 2019). The former paper, for example, has demonstrated for the first time that intergroup conspiracy can directly increase prejudice and discrimination. Perhaps most importantly, we also demonstrate how the prejudice-enhancing effects of intergroup conspiracy theories are not limited to the group targeted by the conspiracy but can spread to other, uninvolved groups. These issues are therefore not just highly topical, but of great significance for society.

Daniel and his colleagues have also recently developed and validated a conspiracy theory measure suitable for younger populations (BJDP, 2021). You can find more information on the Adolescent Conspiracy Beliefs Questionnaire (ACBQ) here.

 

Want to learn more about the psychology of conspiracy theories?

Daniel has written for the Conversation on the psychology of conspiracy theories (> 460,000 reads) and blogs at conspiracypsychology.com. He also gives regular public talks, alongside appearing on TV, radio, print/digital media, and podcasts. You can watch some clips under the "Media" tab on his website (www.danieljolley.co.uk). You can also follow Daniel's updates on Twitter. 

Education/Academic qualification

Psychology, PhD, University of Kent

Award Date: 16 Jul 2015

Psychology, MSc, University of Kent

Award Date: 16 Jul 2011

Psychology, BSc (Hons), Staffordshire University

Award Date: 16 Jul 2010

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