Daniel Jolley

Senior Lecturer

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, IF 3.308), and a potential obstacle to child vaccination uptake (PLoSONE, 2014, IF 2.776). 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, IF 3.175). 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, IF 1.553). To date, my publications have been cited over 667 times (Google Scholar, June ‘20) 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, IF 3.308) further understanding the link between conspiracy beliefs and violent reactions (BJSP, 2020, IF 2.213), and whether the belief that powerful others have conspired may make people more inclined towards unethical actions (BJSP, 2019, IF 2.213). 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.

Want to learn more about the psychology of conspiracy theories?

Daniel has written for the Conversation on conspiracy theories (> 345,000 reads) and blogs at conspiracypsychology.com.  He also gives regular public talks, alongside appearing on radio, print/digital media, podcasts and TV.  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 via www.twitter.com/DrDanielJolley. 

Research Student Supervision Interests

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

Organisational affiliations

Education/Academic qualification

  • PhD, Psychology, University of Kent

  • MSc, Psychology, University of Kent

  • BSc (Hons), Psychology, Staffordshire University

Professional Qualifications

  • Chartered Psychologist (CPsychol), British Psychological Society (BPS)

  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (HEA), FHEA