This chapter outlines what is known to date, and reviews the psychological research on the positive and negative consequences of conspiracy theories. It argues that future research efforts should attempt to address the negative psychological and behavioural consequences of conspiracy theories. Conspiracy theories at first glance appear to satisfy important psychological needs. For example, conspiracy theories may allow people to gain an accurate and consistent understanding of the world; for example, people who need concrete answers and those showing a tendency to overestimate the likelihood of co-occurring events are more likely to be drawn to conspiracy theories. Although there is little empirical evidence, some research suggests that there may be positive consequences of endorsing conspiracy theories. In a similar vein, conspiracy theories may in certain contexts inspire collective action and social change attempts, especially in reaction to threatening events. Potentially, therefore, they have the capacity to satisfy existential needs.
|Title of host publication||Routledge Handbook of Conspiracy Theories|
|Editors||Michael Butter, Peter Knight|
|Place of Publication||London|
|Number of pages||11|
|Publication status||Published - 26 Feb 2020|