The social consequences of conspiracism: Exposure to conspiracy theories decreases intentions to engage in politics and to reduce one's carbon footprint

Daniel Jolley, Karen M. Douglas

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167 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

The current studies explored the social consequences of exposure to conspiracy theories. In Study 1, participants were exposed to a range of conspiracy theories concerning government involvement in significant events such as the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. Results revealed that exposure to information supporting conspiracy theories reduced participants' intentions to engage in politics, relative to participants who were given information refuting conspiracy theories. This effect was mediated by feelings of political powerlessness. In Study 2, participants were exposed to conspiracy theories concerning the issue of climate change. Results revealed that exposure to information supporting the conspiracy theories reduced participants' intentions to reduce their carbon footprint, relative to participants who were given refuting information, or those in a control condition. This effect was mediated by powerlessness with respect to climate change, uncertainty, and disillusionment. Exposure to climate change conspiracy theories also influenced political intentions, an effect mediated by political powerlessness. The current findings suggest that conspiracy theories may have potentially significant social consequences, and highlight the need for further research on the social psychology of conspiracism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-56
JournalBritish Journal of Psychology
Volume105
Issue number1
Early online date4 Jan 2013
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2014
Externally publishedYes

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