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Abstract

Previous literature highlights the crucial role of economic inequality in triggering a range of negative societal outcomes. However, the relationship between economic inequality and the proliferation of conspiracy beliefs remains unexplored. Here, we explore the endorsement of conspiracy beliefs as an outcome of objective country-level (Study 1a, 1b, 1c), perceived (Study 2), and manipulated economic inequality (Studies 3a, 3b, 4a, 4b). In the correlational studies, both objective and perceived economic inequality were associated with greater conspiracy beliefs. In the experiments, participants in the high (compared to the low) inequality condition were more likely to endorse conspiratorial narratives. This effect was fully mediated by anomie (Studies 3a, 3b) suggesting that inequality enhances the perception that society is breaking down (anomie), which in turn increases conspiratorial thinking, possibly in an attempt to regain some sense of order and control. Furthermore, the link between economic inequality and conspiracy beliefs was stronger when participants endorsed a conspiracy worldview (Studies 4a, 4b). Moreover, conspiracy beliefs mediated the effect of the economic inequality manipulation on willingness to engage in collective action aimed at addressing economic inequality. The results show that economic inequality and conspiracy beliefs go hand in hand: economic inequality can cause conspiratorial thinking and conspiracy beliefs can motivate collective action against economic inequality.

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... In such contexts, social cohesion (Sandel, 2020) and solidarity among people decline (Paskov & Dewilde, 2012). Moreover, the perception of a competitive and individualistic normative climate (Sánchez-Rodríguez et al., 2019), interpersonal distrust (Elgar, 2010;Gustavsson & Jordahl, 2008) and anomie (Salvador Casara et al., 2022;Sprong et al., 2019) are enhanced. ...
... On the one hand, economic inequality is generally perceived as unfair (Du & King, 2021), thus, people may support taxation as a redistribution strategy to tackle economic inequality. On the other hand, economic inequality is associated with distrust (Elgar, 2010;Gustavsson & Jordahl, 2008), anomie (Sprong et al., 2019) and conspiracy beliefs (Salvador Casara et al., 2022), hence, the support for taxation may be disrupted, since taxes are managed by the (distrusted) government and public institutions. ...
... Socio-economic class and economic inequality represent two key elements in the endorsement of conspiracy narratives. Conspiracy beliefs are specifically supported by low-class members (Uscinski & Parent, 2014), and they are particularly prompted in social environments perceived as anomic, such as societies characterized by high levels of economic inequality (Salvador Casara et al., 2022). ...
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Taxation is one of the most widely acknowledged strategies to reduce inequality, particularly if based on progressivity. In a high-powered sample study (N = 2119) we investigated economic inequality and conspiracy beliefs as two key predictors of tax attitude and support for progressive taxation. We found that participants in the high economic inequality condition had lower levels of tax compliance and higher levels of conspiracy beliefs and support for progressive taxation. Furthermore, the effect of the experimental condition on tax compliance was mediated by conspiracy beliefs. Finally, conspiracy belief scores were positively associated with support for progressive taxation. Our results provide evidence that attitudes towards taxation are not monolithic but change considering the aims and targets of specific taxes. Indeed, while the perception of economic inequality prompts the desire for equal redistribution, it also fosters conspiracy narratives that undermine compliance with taxes.
... This is not only true at the individual level but also at the country level, as several studies showed that the higher the economic inequalities in a country, the higher the endorsement of conspiracy beliefs (Cordonier et al., 2021;Drochon, 2018;Imhoff et al., 2022). Likewise, the perception of objective and subjective economic inequality on conspiracy beliefs has been proved to be related to greater conspiracy beliefs (Salvador Casara et al., 2022), both at the correlational and the experimental level (conspiracy beliefs increased when participants were presented with an imaginary country that suffered from more economic inequality compared to a less unequal imaginary country). ...
... Likewise, recent evidence demonstrates the existence of a positive link between economic inequality and conspiracy beliefs, mediated by perceptions of anomie (i.e. societal breakdown, which entails generalized distrust see Salvador Casara et al., 2022). ...
... Lower educational achievement due to precarity (Croizet et al., 2019) could also explain a substantial portion of the link between precarity and conspiracy beliefs (see also van Prooijen, 2017). Likewise, it is possible that precarity leads to higher perceptions of anomie, the collapse of societal fabric, which are themselves linked with higher levels of conspiracy beliefs (Jolley et al., 2019;Salvador Casara et al., 2022). Similarly, the mediating role of precarity-induced clinical and subclinical psychopathological factors (Wickham et al., 2014), which is known to foster conspiracy ideation (Bowes et al., 2021;Georgiou et al., 2019), should be tested. ...
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Conspiracy Beliefs (CB) are a key vector of violent extremism, radicalism and unconventional political events. So far, social-psychological research has extensively documented how cognitive, emotional and intergroup factors can promote CB. Evidence also suggests that adherence to CB moves along social class lines: low-income and low-education are among the most robust predictors of CB. Yet, the potential role of precarity-the subjective experience of permanent insecurity stemming from objective material strain-in shaping CB remains largely unexplored. In this paper, we propose for the first time a socio-functional model of CB. We test the hypothesis that precarity could foster increased CB because it undermines trust in government and the broader political 'elites'. Data from the World Value Survey (n = 21,650; Study 1, electoral CB) and from representative samples from polls conducted in France (n = 1760, Study 2a, conspiracy mentality) and Italy (n = 2196, Study 2b, COVID-19 CB), corroborate a mediation model whereby precarity is directly and indirectly associated with lower trust in authorities and higher CB. In addition, these links are robust to adjustment on income, self-reported SES and education. Considering precarity allows for a truly social-psychological understanding of CB as the by-product of structural issues (e.g. growing inequalities). Results from our socio-functional model suggest that implementing solutions at the socioeconomic level could prove efficient in fighting CB.
... Each CTregardless of whether it is about evil scientists, shapeshifting aliens, or a secret society-functions as a ''wake-up call'' for people that are about to be harmed by an illintentioned outgroup, given that the theory is correct. Recent research suggested that certain social factors, including but not limited to corruption (Alper, 2021;Alper, Douglas, & Capraro, 2021) and inequality (Casara et al., 2022), could be triggering conspiracy beliefs because the perceived discrepancy in outcomes could be seen as signs of being exploited by outgroups. In this article, we make use of a large, multisite data set (23 countries, N . ...
... In countries with high corruption, for example, the expectation of secretive alliances is relatively more plausible because ''actual conspiracies'' (e.g., nepotism, bribery, censorship) frequently happen in these contexts (Alper, 2021). Similarly, both correlational and experimental evidence suggest a link between inequality and conspiracy beliefs, and this link is mediated by the perception that there is a social dysfunction and chaos (Casara et al., 2022). Precarity (job insecurity) similarly relates to conspiracy beliefs, and people with lower sense of security have higher conspiracy beliefs due to their lower level of trust for institutions (Adam-Troian et al., 2021). ...
... For these, their association with political orientation was exacerbated in high corruption countries. Contexts saturated with threat cues beg for a group or agents to blame (Alper, 2021;Casara et al., 2022;van Prooijen & Douglas, 2017). Here, then, the most accessible explanation, one that fits with one's political worldview is favored and partisan conspiracy beliefs are endorsed to an even larger degree. ...
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Recent research has showed that people with right-wing political orientations and political extremists are more likely to harbor conspiracy beliefs. Utilizing a multisite data set (23 countries, N > 20,000), we show that corruption moderates how political orientation predicts conspiracy beliefs. We found that (1) the difference between left- and right-wingers in terms of adopting a conspiracy mind-set is attenuated in countries with high corruption; and (2) left-wingers are more likely to believe left-wing conspiracy theories, and right-wingers are more likely to believe right-wing conspiracy theories in high corruption countries. Including quadratic effects of political orientation yielded the same results. We argue that this is because corruption increases perceived plausibility of conspiracies, and everyone across the political spectrum becomes similarly likely to adopt a conspiracy mentality. This heightened suspicion, however, is reflected on partisan conspiracy theories differently for left- and right-wingers, depending on their different understandings of outgroup.
... In such contexts, social cohesion (Sandel, 2020) and solidarity among people decline (Paskov & Dewilde, 2012). Moreover, the perception of a competitive and individualistic normative climate (Sánchez-Rodríguez et al., 2019), interpersonal distrust (Elgar, 2010;Gustavsson & Jordahl, 2008) and anomie (Salvador Casara et al., 2022;Sprong et al., 2019) are enhanced. ...
... On the one hand, economic inequality is generally perceived as unfair (Du & King, 2021), thus, people may support taxation as a redistribution strategy to tackle economic inequality. On the other hand, economic inequality is associated with distrust (Elgar, 2010;Gustavsson & Jordahl, 2008), anomie (Sprong et al., 2019) and conspiracy beliefs (Salvador Casara et al., 2022), hence, the support for taxation may be disrupted, since taxes are managed by the (distrusted) government and public institutions. ...
... Socio-economic class and economic inequality represent two key elements in the endorsement of conspiracy narratives. Conspiracy beliefs are specifically supported by low-class members (Uscinski & Parent, 2014), and they are particularly prompted in social environments perceived as anomic, such as societies characterized by high levels of economic inequality (Salvador Casara et al., 2022). ...
Article
Full-text available
Taxation is one of the most widely acknowledged strategies to reduce inequality, particularly if based on progressiv-ity. In a high-powered sample study (N = 2119) we inves-tigated economic inequality and conspiracy beliefs as two key predictors of tax attitude and support for progressive taxation. We found that participants in the high economic inequality condition had lower levels of tax compliance and higher levels of conspiracy beliefs and support for progres-sive taxation. Furthermore, the effect of the experimental condition on tax compliance was mediated by conspiracy beliefs. Finally, conspiracy belief scores were positively as-sociated with support for progressive taxation. Our results provide evidence that attitudes towards taxation are not monolithic but change considering the aims and targets of specific taxes. Indeed, while the perception of economic in-equality prompts the desire for equal redistribution, it also fosters conspiracy narratives that undermine compliance with taxes.
... However, scholars have found patterns consistent with the notion that culture may play a role: nations high in collectivism and masculinity, for example, tend to be higher in conspiracist thinking (Adam-Troian et al., 2021;Biddlestone et al., 2020;Van Prooijen & Song, 2021). There is also some evidence that the perception (and to an extent the reality) of high economic inequality in a nation is associated with propensity to believe conspiracy theories (Casara et al., 2022). ...
... In the supplementary analyses, we examined all 23 countries.Third, we re-analysed conspiracy belief scores from the YouGov-Globalism Project 2020, a dataset that includes data from 20 countries.Conspiracy beliefs were measured with five items based on globally recognised conspiracy theories (i.e., a single secret group in charge of the world, global warming, alien contact, origins of the AIDS virus, and the moon landing) rated on 5-point Likert scales with responses ranging from 1 "Definitely false" to 5 "Definitely true". This dataset formed Study 1c ofCasara et al. (2022). ...
... Finally, these developments have left a vacuum when it comes to societal orientations. Trust in societal institutions and engagement with them is dropping, and a part of society -often made up of individuals impacted by economic inequalities -is looking for alternative explanations for and even potential solutions to the crises affecting society (Biddlestone et al., 2022;Casara et al., 2022). In the public sphere this can be seen in the increasingly public presence of individuals who believe in and share conspiracy narratives (Casara et al., 2022). ...
... Trust in societal institutions and engagement with them is dropping, and a part of society -often made up of individuals impacted by economic inequalities -is looking for alternative explanations for and even potential solutions to the crises affecting society (Biddlestone et al., 2022;Casara et al., 2022). In the public sphere this can be seen in the increasingly public presence of individuals who believe in and share conspiracy narratives (Casara et al., 2022). This is especially worrisome, as those groups do not only reject consensual beliefs about society and social problems (Jensen et al., 2021;Rutjen & Veckalov, 2022), but are also laying claim to and trying to redefine concepts such as solidarity, openness or freedom of speech. ...
Chapter
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Journalism has the societal task to collect and share information about contemporary affairs and explain how those relate to the state of the world. To do so journalism engages with other domains of society e.g. politics and economics. Because of these interactions journalism is attributed with additional normative duties, e.g. it’s does not only monitor the political sphere but may also keep political powers in check. In western societies this assumption has been coined with the term “fourth estate”; a feature distinguishing journalism from other forms of public communication. However, mounting economic and political pressure, as well as multiple societal crises led to a situation where the freedom of the press and journalists’ ability to act as a fourth estate have been tested, as political actors and economic forces are likely to endanger journalistic integrity. Analysing data from several quantitative studies on journalists and the public perception of journalism the following can be stated: Journalists and especially those who working for public service media, stress the importance of the “fourth estate”, legitimising the craft. Furthermore, the results of the analysis highlight that even if public service media may be under pressure, both audiences and journalists working in such organisations expect journalism to serve as a “fourth estate”. In principle this should allow public service journalists to articulate their worries regarding the independence of journalism and their perceived ability to keep political and economic actors in check, because they are likely to find support for their position among their peers within their institution and their – substantive – audience. Consequently, this leads to a situation where representatives of news media in general should be empowered to position themselves, when the normative goals of journalism need to be discussed and protected.
... However, scholars have found patterns consistent with the notion that culture may play a role: nations high in collectivism and masculinity, for example, tend to be higher in conspiracist thinking (Adam-Troian et al., 2021;Biddlestone et al., 2020;Van Prooijen & Song, 2021). There is also some evidence that the perception (and to an extent the reality) of high economic inequality in a nation is associated with propensity to believe conspiracy theories (Casara et al., 2022). ...
... In the supplementary analyses, we examined all 23 countries.Third, we re-analysed conspiracy belief scores from the YouGov-Globalism Project 2020, a dataset that includes data from 20 countries.Conspiracy beliefs were measured with five items based on globally recognised conspiracy theories (i.e., a single secret group in charge of the world, global warming, alien contact, origins of the AIDS virus, and the moon landing) rated on 5-point Likert scales with responses ranging from 1 "Definitely false" to 5 "Definitely true". This dataset formed Study 1c ofCasara et al. (2022). ...
Article
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While a great deal is known about the individual difference factors associated with conspiracy beliefs, much less is known about the country-level factors that shape people’s willingness to believe conspiracy theories. In the current article we discuss the possibility that willingness to believe conspiracy theories might be shaped by the perception (and reality) of poor economic performance at the national level. To test this notion, we surveyed 6723 participants from 36 countries. In line with predictions, propensity to believe conspiracy theories was negatively associated with perceptions of current and future national economic vitality. Furthermore, countries with higher GDP per capita tended to have lower belief in conspiracy theories. The data suggest that conspiracy beliefs are not just caused by intrapsychic factors but are also shaped by difficult economic circumstances for which distrust might have a rational basis.
... However, although individuals who selfreport uncertainty avoidance are higher in conspiracy belief, there is limited evidence that cultures with high levels of uncertainty avoidance are prone to believing conspiracies 145 . Similarly, individual perceptions of economic inequality within a nation are robustly associated with conspiracy beliefs 147 , but the pattern is not reliably observed when objective levels of inequality (such as the GINI coefficient 143 ) are used. Finally, people with stronger collectivist (versus individualist) orientations have higher conspiracy beliefs 10,141 . ...
Article
Conspiracy theories are part of mainstream public life, with the potential to undermine governments, promote racism, ignite extremism and threaten public health efforts. Psychological research on conspiracy theories is booming, with more than half of the academic articles on the topic published since 2019. In this Review, we synthesize the literature with an eye to understanding the psychological factors that shape willingness to believe conspiracy theories. We begin at the individual level, examining the cognitive, clinical, motivational, personality and developmental factors that predispose people to believe conspiracy theories. Drawing on insights from social and evolutionary psychology, we then review research examining conspiracy theories as an intergroup phenomenon that reflects and reinforces societal fault lines. Finally, we examine how conspiracy theories are shaped by the economic, political, cultural and socio-historical contexts at the national level. This multilevel approach offers a deep and broad insight into conspiracist thinking that increases understanding of the problem and offers potential solutions. Conspiracy theories have the potential to undermine governments, promote racism, ignite extremism and threaten public health efforts. In this Review, Hornsey et al. synthesize the literature on factors that shape conspiracy beliefs at the individual, intergroup and national level.
... Moreover, the relationship between conflicts and conspiracy beliefs can be inferred based on previous evidence showcasing a relationship between constructs closely associated with intergroup conflict on the one hand, and support for or acceptance of conspiracy theories, on the other hand. For example, acceptance or support for conspiracy theories was found to be related to prejudice (Imhoff & Bruder, 2014), intergroup aggression , social exclusion (Poon et al., 2020), oppression and relative deprivation (Crocker et al., 1999), corruption (Alper, 2021;Alper et al., 2021;Alper & Imhoff, 2022), and inequality Salvador Casara et al., 2022). However, it should be noted that although these constructs are all related to violent conflicts, they do not fully capture the overall intensity of conflicts. ...
... Esto fue observado también durante la pandemia del COVID-19: las personas con mayores creencias en un mundo justo y ordenado tuvieron una menor percepción de riesgo con respecto al COVID-19 (Gratz et al., 2021). Por otro lado, la desigualdad económica ha sido observada como posible causa de las creencias conspirativas (Casara et al., 2022), ya sea que esta se mida mediante indicadores sociodemográficos o mediante percepciones. ...
Article
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El pensamiento conspirativo es la tendencia a atribuir las causas de problemas importantes a complots secretos organizados por personas que buscan causar daño a la sociedad. Si bien este pensamiento tiene consecuencias importantes, no se encuentran instrumentos validados que permitan medirlo en español. El presente estudio busca cerrar esta brecha al traducir y adaptar la General Conspiracist Beliefs Scale (GCBS) al español y analizar sus evidencias de validez y confiabilidad. Para ello, se reclutó a 316 participantes en las redes sociales y se analizó la adecuación psicométrica de la prueba. Para las evidencias de validez provenientes de la estructura factorial de la prueba, se confirmó una estructura de tres factores: conspiraciones políticas, científicas y alienígenas. Las evidencias de validez provenientes del contenido de la prueba fueron adecuadas de acuerdo al coeficiente V de Aiken. Las personas con mayores niveles de pensamiento conspirativo tuvieron también respuestas consistentes en una escala de pensamiento conspirativo de un ítem, confiaban menos en la efectividad de prácticascientíficas (y más en prácticas pseudocientíficas) y exhibieron menores niveles de reflexión cognitiva, evidenciando validez proveniente de las relaciones con otras variables. En conclusión, la GCBS es una medida adecuada del pensamiento conspirativo en español.
... Importantly, the data did provide (weak) evidence for experimental effects on specific measures of conspiracy beliefs, but none on generic measures of conspiracy mentality. Other studies also yielded no support for experimental main effects on conspiracy mentality [26,33] or other broad measures [34]. ...
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Although sometimes used interchangeably, the present review highlights the important differences between generalized worldviews suspecting conspiracy at play (conspiracy mentality) and specific beliefs about the existence of a certain conspiracy (conspiracy theory). In contrast to measures of beliefs in specific conspiracy theories, those of conspiracy mentality are more stable, less malleable, less skewed in their distribution and less contaminated by other ideological content. These differences have important implications for empirical research and the theorizing of conspiracy beliefs. Building on an analogy of personality traits, we argue that conspiracy mentality is a relatively stable readiness to interpret world events as being caused by plots hatched in secret, whereas specific conspiracy beliefs are then manifest indicators (partially contaminated by other dispositions).
... Importantly, the data did provide (weak) evidence for experimental effects on specific measures of conspiracy beliefs, but none on generic measures of conspiracy mentality. Other studies also yielded no support for experimental main effects on conspiracy mentality [26,33] or other broad measures [34]. ...
Article
Full-text available
Although sometimes used interchangeably, the present review highlights the important differences between generalized worldviews suspecting conspiracy at play (conspiracy mentality) and specific beliefs about the existence of a certain conspiracy (conspiracy theory). In contrast to measures of beliefs in specific conspiracy theories, those of conspiracy mentality are more stable, less malleable, less skewed in their distribution and less contaminated by other ideological content. These differences have important implications for empirical research and the theorizing of conspiracy beliefs. Building on an analogy of personality traits, we argue that conspiracy mentality is a relatively stable readiness to interpret world events as being caused by plots hatched in secret, whereas specific conspiracy beliefs are then manifest indicators (partially contaminated by other dispositions).
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Belief in conspiracy theories results from a combination of intuitive and deliberative cognitive processes (van Prooijen, Klein, & Milošević Đorđević, 2020). We propose a novel construct, conspiracy intuitions, the subjective sense that an event or circumstance is not adequately explained or accounted for by existing narratives, potentially for nefarious reasons, as an initial stage in the acquisition of conspiracy beliefs that can be distinguished from conspiracy beliefs themselves. We draw on both the conspiracy theory and magical thinking literature to make a case for conspiracy intuitions, suggest methods for measuring them, and argue that efforts to combat conspiracy theories in society could benefit from strategies that attend to the intuitive properties of the proto-beliefs that precede them.
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Conspiracy beliefs have negative effects on decision making in several life areas including health, ethical, political and environmental domains. But their influence on financial decisions is not known. The current study examines the mediational role of social trust in the relationship between non‐financial conspiracy beliefs and stock market participation. First, exploratory findings provide preliminary cross‐country evidence that conspiracy beliefs are associated with lower stock market participation. Next, three studies from close to 53,000 United States respondents show that conspiracy beliefs predict 8‐20% decrease in the odds of investing in stocks even after adjusting for several determinants of stock ownership including income, life satisfaction, cognitive ability and economic attitudes. Mediation analyses shows that conspiracy beliefs predict lower social trust, which in turn predicts lower stock ownership. Overall, the findings suggest that endorsing misleading non‐financial beliefs about the causes of socio‐cultural events may potential impede financial decision making. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
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Mivel véleményünk szerint szociológiai szempontból a soron következő nemzeti konzultáció semmiben nem fog különbözni az eddigiektől, ezért tanulmányunkban arra teszünk kísérletet, hogy-korábbi elemzéseinkre támaszkodva-ismét elmondjuk, hogy mi is valójában egy nemzeti konzultáció, hogy miképpen működik a morális pánikgomb (MPG), aminek fontos elemei a nemzeti konzultációk, és a végén elmondjuk, hogy mi fog történni ezzel a megnyomattatással. Felvezetésképpen Soros Györgyről kell röviden szólnunk, mivel szerepe megkerülhetetlen az MPG megismeréséhez, aztán egy nagyon rövid MPG történelmi áttekintés után, olyan empirikus elemzések eredményeit mutatjuk be, amelyekkel jól illusztrálható az MPG technológiájának jelenléte és hatása a médiában. A Soros-jelenség létrejötte A következőkben felsoroljuk azokat a tényezőket, amelyek szerepet játszattak a Sorossal kapcsolatos összeesküvés elméletek létrejöttében.
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While conspiracy theories about COVID-19 are proliferating, their impact on health-related responses during the present pandemic is not yet fully understood. We meta-analyzed correlational and longitudinal evidence from 53 studies (N = 78,625) conducted in 2020 and 2021. Conspiracy beliefs were weakly associated with more reluctance toward prevention measures both cross-sectionally and over time. They explained lower vaccination and social distancing responses but were unrelated to mask wearing and hygiene responses. Conspiracy beliefs showed an increasing association with prevention responses as the pandemic progressed and explained support for alternative treatments lacking scientific bases (e.g., chloroquine treatment, complementary medicine). Despite small and heterogenous effects, at a large scale, conspiracy beliefs are a non-negligeable threat to public health.
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Even though conspiracy theories are diverse, they are typically construed as a homogeneous phenomenon. Based on classic theorizations of conspiracy theories by Popper (1945; 2002) and Moscovici (1987), we propose to distinguish between belief in upward conspiracy theories (i.e., targeting relatively powerful groups) and downward conspiracy theories (i.e., targeting relatively powerless groups). The former are theorized as power‐challenging beliefs and the latter are theorized as being underpinned by conservative ideology. Across three studies conducted in Belgium (Total N = 2363), we show that these two types of conspiracy beliefs indeed relate differently to power‐challenging attitudes (i.e., political extremism, feelings of leadership breakdown) and conservative ideology. Specifically, upward conspiracy beliefs were characterized by a U‐shaped relationship with political orientation (i.e., an “extremism” bias), and a strong relationship with feelings of leadership breakdown. By contrast, downward conspiracy beliefs were strongly associated with conservative ideology. Both types of conspiracy beliefs were, however, positively correlated. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved
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Research suggests that belief in conspiracy theories (CT) stems from basic psychological mechanisms and is linked to other belief systems (e.g. religious beliefs). While previous research has extensively examined individual and contextual variables associated with CT beliefs, it has not yet investigated the role of culture. In the current research, we tested, based on a situated cultural cognition perspective, the extent to which culture predicts CT beliefs. Using Hofstede's model of cultural values, three nation-level analyses of data from 25, 19 and 18 countries using different measures of CT beliefs (Study 1, N = 5,323; Study 2a, N = 12,255; Study 2b, N = 30,994) revealed positive associations between Masculinity, Collectivism and CT beliefs. A cross-sectional study among US citizens (Study 3, N = 350), using individual-level measures of Hofstede's values, replicated these findings. A meta-analysis of correlations across studies corroborated the presence of positive links between CT beliefs, Collectivism, r = .31, 95%CI = [.15; .47] and Masculinity, , r = .39, 95%CI = [.18; .59]. Our results suggest that in addition to individual-differences and contextual variables, cultural factors also play an important role in shaping CT beliefs.
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In this factsheet we identify some of the main types, sources, and claims of COVID-19 misinformation seen so far. We analyse a sample of 225 pieces of misinformation rated false or misleading by fact-checkers and published in English between January and the end of March 2020, drawn from a collection of fact-checks maintained by First Draft News.
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It is a hitherto open and debated question whether the belief in conspiracies increases or attenuates the willingness to engage in political action. In the present article, we tested the notion, whether (a) the relation between belief in conspiracies and general political engagement is curvilinear (inverted U-shaped) and (b) there may be opposing relations to normative versus nonnormative forms of political engagement. Two preregistered experiments ( N = 194, N = 402) support both propositions and show that the hypothetical adoption of a worldview that sees the world as governed by secret plots attenuates reported intentions to participate in normative, legal forms of political participation but increases reported intentions to employ nonnormative, illegal means of political articulation. These results provide first evidence for the notion that political extremism and violence might seem an almost logical conclusion when seeing the world as governed by conspiracies.
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Scholars have long recognised the role that propaganda played in bringing the Nazi regime to power and sustaining its rule over the period 1933 − 45. While sound intelligence and data were essential to waging war effectively and accurately measuring public support for the regime’s policies, misinformation played no less important a role in demonising the Party’s enemies and steeling the public’s resolve to support the war effort. This article analyses one such aspect of Nazi misinformation — the conspiracy theory — and argues that Nazi conspiratorial thinking was central to bringing the regime into office, consolidating power, and radicalising policy over the course of the Third Reich.
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Scholarly efforts to understand conspiracy theories have grown significantly in recent years, and there is now a broad and interdisciplinary literature. In reviewing this body of work, we ask three specific questions. First, what factors are associated with conspiracy beliefs? Our review of the literature shows that conspiracy beliefs result from a range of psychological, political, and social factors. Next, how are conspiracy theories communicated? Here, we explain how conspiracy theories are shared among individuals and spread through traditional and social media platforms. Next, what are the societal risks and rewards associated with conspiracy theories? By focusing on politics and science, we argue that conspiracy theories do more harm than good. We conclude by suggesting several promising avenues for future research.
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This paper introduces JASP, a free graphical software package for basic statistical procedures such as t tests, ANOVAs, linear regression models, and analyses of contingency tables. JASP is open-source and differentiates itself from existing open-source solutions in two ways. First, JASP provides several innovations in user interface design; specifically, results are provided immediately as the user makes changes to options, output is attractive, minimalist, and designed around the principle of progressive disclosure, and analyses can be peer reviewed without requiring a “syntax”. Second, JASP provides some of the recent developments in Bayesian hypothesis testing and Bayesian parameter estimation. The ease with which these relatively complex Bayesian techniques are available in JASP encourages their broader adoption and furthers a more inclusive statistical reporting practice. The JASP analyses are implemented in R and a series of R packages.
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Economic threat (e.g., low or precarious socio-economic status) motivates social psychological responses to restore or maintain a sense of control and self-esteem, thwarted under conditions of personal or collective economic crisis. We review recent research showing that these processes elicit personal or collective attitudes and action tendencies that may either contribute to alleviate the source of the threat (e.g., collective action towards equality) or to be merely palliative (e.g., displaced intergroup conflict, ethnic prejudice). Further research should focus more on testing the motivational processes underlying the effects of economic threat.
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In the present contribution, we examine the link between societal crisis situations and belief in conspiracy theories. Contrary to common assumptions, belief in conspiracy theories has been prevalent throughout human history. We first illustrate historical incidents suggesting that societal crisis situations—defined as impactful and rapid societal change that calls established power structures, norms of conduct, or even the existence of specific people or groups into question—have stimulated belief in conspiracy theories. We then review the psychological literature to explain why this is the case. Evidence suggests that the aversive feelings that people experience when in crisis—fear, uncertainty, and the feeling of being out of control—stimulate a motivation to make sense of the situation, increasing the likelihood of perceiving conspiracies in social situations. We then explain that after being formed, conspiracy theories can become historical narratives that may spread through cultural transmission. We conclude that conspiracy theories originate particularly in crisis situations and may form the basis for how people subsequently remember and mentally represent a historical event.
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Anomie, as defined by sociologists, refers to a state of society characterized by deregulation and erosion of moral values. In the present conceptual analysis, we bring the concept of anomie under a social psychological spotlight. We explore the conditions under which anomie arises and develop a model outlining various responses to anomie. We define anomie as a shared perception of the state of society and propose that two conditions must be met for anomie to emerge. First, a society's social fabric must be perceived to be breaking down (i.e., lack of trust and erosion of moral standards). Second, a society's leadership must be perceived to be breaking down (i.e., lack of legitimacy and effectiveness of leadership). We highlight two key responses of individuals to an anomic situation: a contraction of the personal self and a contraction of the social self. We discuss how a psychology of anomie can inform and advance broader theorizing on group processes.
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Economic crises can threaten individuals’ sense of control. At the same time, these crises often result in collective responses, such as class-based protest (e.g., the 99%), but also nationalism or xenophobia. We investigated how personal consequences of economic crises lead to both intragroup and intergroup responses and the role of control for these effects. Studies 1 and 2 show that personal income and fear of economic descent reduce people’s personal control, which in turn fosters hostile inter-ethnic attitudes (Study 1), and ingroup trust toward one’s own social class (Study 2). Study 3 tests the combined effect of personal control and salience of collective economic identity in an experimental field study in Germany and Spain. For Spanish participants, control deprivation increased collective efficacy when national economic identity was salient, which in turn increased collective action intentions. We discuss the conditions under which crisis-induced threat to personal control elicits collective responses and the consequences for intergroup relations, including across class lines.
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We designed, in French and in English, a single-item scale to measure people’s general tendency to believe in conspiracy theories. The validity and reliability of this scale was assessed in 3 studies (total N = 555). In Study 1 ( N = 152), positive correlations between the single-item scale and 3 other conspiracy belief scales on a French student sample suggested good concurrent validity. In Study 2 ( N = 292), we replicated these results on a larger and more heterogeneous Internet American sample. Moreover, the scale showed good predictive validity—responses predicted participants’ willingness to receive a bi-monthly newsletter about alleged conspiracy theories. Finally, in Study 3 ( N = 111), we observed good test-retest reliability and demonstrated both convergent and discriminant validity of the single-item scale. Overall these results suggest that the single-item conspiracy belief scale has good validity and reliability and may be used to measure conspiracy belief in favor of lengthier existing scales. In addition, the validation of the single- item scale led us to develop and start validating French versions of the Generic Conspiracist Beliefs scale, the Conspiracy Mentality Questionnaire, and a 10-item version (instead of the 15-item original version) of the Belief in Conspiracy Theories Inventory.
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Why do people believe in conspiracy theories? This study breaks from much previous research and attempts to explain conspiratorial beliefs with traditional theories of opinion formation. Specifically, we focus on the reception of informational cues given a set of predispositions (political and conspiratorial). We begin with observational survey data to show that there exists a unique predisposition that drives individuals to one degree or another to believe in conspiracy theories. This predisposition appears orthogonal to partisanship and predicts political behaviors including voter participation. Then a national survey experiment is used to test the effect of an informational cue on belief in a conspiracy theory while accounting for both conspiratorial predispositions and partisanship. Our results provide an explanation for individual-level heterogeneity in the holding of conspiratorial beliefs and also indicate the conditions under which information can drive conspiratorial beliefs.
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Although public endorsement of conspiracy theories is growing, the potentially negative societal consequences of widespread conspiracy ideation remain unclear. While past studies have mainly examined the personality correlates of conspiracy ideation, this study examines the conspiracy-effect; the extent to which exposure to an actual conspiracy theory influences pro-social and environmental decision-making. Participants (N = 316) were randomly assigned to one of three conditions; (a) a brief conspiracy video about global warming, (b) an inspirational pro-climate video or (c) a control group. Results indicate that those participants who were exposed to the conspiracy video were significantly less likely to think that there is widespread scientific agreement on human-caused climate change, less likely to sign a petition to help reduce global warming and less likely to donate or volunteer for a charity in the next six months. These results strongly point to the socio-cognitive potency of conspiracies and highlight that exposure to popular conspiracy theories can have negative and undesirable societal consequences.
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Threats to control have been found to increase belief in conspiracy theories. We argue, however, that previous research observing this effect was limited in two ways. First, previous research did not exclude the possibility that affirming control might reduce conspiracy beliefs. Second, because of artificial lab procedures, previous findings provide little information about the external validity of the control threat–conspiracy belief relationship. In Study 1, we address the first limitation and find that affirming control indeed reduces belief in conspiracy theories as compared with a neutral baseline condition. In Study 2, we address the second limitation of the literature. In a large-scale US sample, we find that a societal threat to control, that citizens actually experienced, predicts belief in a range of common conspiracy theories. Taken together, these findings increase insight in the fundamental relationship between the human need for control and the tendency to believe in conspiracy theories. Copyright © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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Previous research has shown that having rich neighbors is associated with reduced levels of subjective well-being, an effect that is likely due to social comparison. The current study examined the role of income inequality as a moderator of this relative income effect. Multilevel analyses were conducted on a sample of more than 1.7 million people from 2,425 counties in the United States. Results showed that higher income inequality was associated with stronger relative income effects. In other words, people were more strongly influenced by the income of their neighbors when income inequality was high. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2015 APA, all rights reserved).
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This paper assessed whether belief in conspiracy theories was associated with a particularly cognitive style (worldview). The sample comprised 223 volunteers recruited via convenience sampling and included undergraduates, postgraduates, university employees, and alumni. Respondents completed measures assessing a range of cognitive-perceptual factors (schizotypy, delusional ideation, and hallucination proneness) and conspiratorial beliefs (general attitudes toward conspiracist thinking and endorsement of individual conspiracies). Positive symptoms of schizotypy, particularly the cognitive-perceptual factor, correlated positively with conspiracist beliefs. The best predictor of belief in conspiracies was delusional ideation. Consistent with the notion of a coherent conspiratorial mindset, scores across conspiracy measures correlated strongly. Whilst findings supported the view that belief in conspiracies, within the sub-clinical population, was associated with a delusional thinking style, cognitive-perceptual factors in combination accounted for only 32% of the variance.
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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.
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We examined the extent to which system justification buffered the negative effect of retrospective experiences of active harm from general sources in society on life satisfaction during the same assessment period, and prospectively 1 year later. Results from a nationally representative sample indicated that the retrospective assessment of active harm and quality of life were uncorrelated for people who endorsed system justifying ideology (N = 6,518). Study 2 replicated the concurrent buffering effect of system justification on subjective wellbeing and demonstrated that the effect reversed over time. For people high in system justification beliefs, societal-level harm prospectively predicted lower life satisfaction 1 year later (N = 136 undergraduates). Perceiving the system as fair and legitimate in the face of harm from others in society has opposing short and longer-term effects on wellbeing. We argue that these opposing effects occur because although system justification trumps experiences of harm and buffers life satisfaction in the short-term; the resulting experience-belief conflict engenders a state of ideological dissonance that predicts negative psychological outcomes down the track.
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Violence was likely often a strong selective pressure in many traditional lowland South American societies. A compilation of 11 anthropological studies reporting cause of death shows that violence led to about 30% of adult deaths, of which about 70% were males. Here violent deaths are further itemized at the level of ethnographically-reported death events (particular duels, homicides, and raids) to provide more detailed insight into the causes and consequences of within- and between-group violence. Data for 238 death events (totaling 1145 deaths) from 44 lowland South American societies show that attacks are more deadly when treachery is used, when avenging a previous killing, and on external warfare raids between ethnolinguistic groups. That revenge raids kill more people on average than the original grievance, at least when conflicts are between ethnolinguistic groups, indicates a tendency towards increasingly vicious cycles of revenge killings. Motives of killings as noted in ethnographic sources, in order of importance, reportedly include revenge for previous killings and other wrong-doings like sorcery, jealousy over women, gain of captive women and children, fear or deterrence of impending attack, and occasionally the theft of material goods. Results may have implications for understanding the potential for multi-level selection by delineating the force of competition at varying scales of analysis within and between lowland South American societies.
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The present research aimed to examine whether perceiving anomie within current society affects people’s representations of the national past and their support for collective actions through the reconstructed past. In two studies, we showed that perceived anomie affects people’s evaluation of some features of a past national figure (Study 1: Charles de Gaulle, former French president who had an important role during World War II) and an event (Study 2: May 68, an important French social movement that took place in May 1968). In Study 1, participants in the anomie conditions reconstructed de Gaulle as more positive (e.g., more moral, associated with more positive emotions) than did those in the neutral condition. In Study 2, the effects were different according to the anomie dimension made salient and were moderated by political orientation: Compared to participants in the neutral condition, salience of social fabric disintegration led to less positive representations of May 68 for rightist participants whereas salience of leadership disregulation led leftist participants to consider May 68 as more central in the French identity. Moreover, the reconstructed past induced by perceived anomie in turn influenced participant’s support for normative collective actions (Studies 1 & 2) and actions against outgroups (Study 2), but not their support for violent actions.
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Perceived lack of control is widely believed to motivate, at least partly, belief in conspiracy theories. We question the theoretical foundations of this belief and meta‐analyze existing published and unpublished studies to assess the overall effect of lack of control on conspiracy beliefs. The overall effect was small and not statistically significant (d = ‐ 0.05), and was not moderated by comparison group (baseline vs control affirmation), type of manipulation used to threaten control, inclusion of a manipulation check, or sample type. However, the predicted effect of control was more likely to be observed when beliefs were measured in terms of specific conspiracy theories, rather than as general or abstract claims. Overall, the present studies to date offer limited support for the hypothesis that conspiracy beliefs arise as a compensatory control.
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Societal inequality has been found to harm the mental and physical health of its members and undermine overall social cohesion. Here, we tested the hypothesis that economic inequality is associated with a wish for a strong leader in a study involving 28 countries from five continents (Study 1, N = 6,112), a study involving an Australian community sample (Study 2, N = 515), and two experiments (Study 3a, N = 96; Study 3b, N = 296). We found correlational (Studies 1 and 2) and experimental (Studies 3a and 3b) evidence for our prediction that higher inequality enhances the wish for a strong leader. We also found that this relationship is mediated by perceptions of anomie, except in the case of objective inequality in Study 1. This suggests that societal inequality enhances the perception that society is breaking down (anomie) and that a strong leader is needed to restore order (even when that leader is willing to challenge democratic values).
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Although a growing body of studies has explored the antecedents of people’s adoption of conspiracy beliefs, the behavioral consequences of conspiracy theories – particularly regarding political engagement – have been less explored. Research has looked at conspiracy beliefs, exposure to specific conspiracy theories, conspiracy thinking, and the communication of conspiracy theories as predictor variables. To date, the findings are mixed due to conceptual differences and the selection of predictors with different functions and aspects. I offer new evidence. First, I explore whether conspiracy beliefs translate into political engagement. Having analyzed the 2012 American National Election Study, I find a positive association between conspiracy beliefs and political activities. Second, by manipulating exposure to a nascent conspiracy theory that emerged during the 2016 presidential primary elections, I examine whether exposure to conspiracy theories drives intention to engage in politics. Across two original survey experiments, the results indicate that conspiracy theories may lead to positive action, encouraging people to get involved in politics. The findings demonstrate that the spread of conspiracy theories is not uniformly detrimental to society. These findings also help to explain why elites within losing political organizations are more likely to spread conspiracy theories: they are a means for mobilizing disenfranchised citizens.
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The common approach to the multiplicity problem calls for controlling the familywise error rate (FWER). This approach, though, has faults, and we point out a few. A different approach to problems of multiple significance testing is presented. It calls for controlling the expected proportion of falsely rejected hypotheses — the false discovery rate. This error rate is equivalent to the FWER when all hypotheses are true but is smaller otherwise. Therefore, in problems where the control of the false discovery rate rather than that of the FWER is desired, there is potential for a gain in power. A simple sequential Bonferronitype procedure is proved to control the false discovery rate for independent test statistics, and a simulation study shows that the gain in power is substantial. The use of the new procedure and the appropriateness of the criterion are illustrated with examples.
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Objective: Strengthening of antivaccination movements in recent decades has coincided with unprecedented increases in the incidence of some communicable diseases. Many intervention programs work from a deficit model of science communication, presuming that vaccination skeptics lack the ability to access or understand evidence. However, interventions focusing on evidence and the debunking of vaccine-related myths have proven to be either nonproductive or counterproductive. Working from a motivated reasoning perspective, we examine the psychological factors that might motivate people to reject scientific consensus around vaccination. To assist with international generalizability, we examine this question in 24 countries. Methods: We sampled 5,323 participants in 24 countries, and measured their antivaccination attitudes. We also measured their belief in conspiracy theories, reactance (the tendency for people to have a low tolerance for impingements on their freedoms), disgust sensitivity toward blood and needles, and individualistic/hierarchical worldviews (i.e., people's beliefs about how much control society should have over individuals, and whether hierarchies are desirable). Results: In order of magnitude, antivaccination attitudes were highest among those who (a) were high in conspiratorial thinking, (b) were high in reactance, (c) reported high levels of disgust toward blood and needles, and (d) had strong individualistic/hierarchical worldviews. In contrast, demographic variables (including education) accounted for nonsignificant or trivial levels of variance. Conclusions: These data help identify the "attitude roots" that may motivate and sustain vaccine skepticism. In so doing, they help shed light on why repetition of evidence can be nonproductive, and suggest communication solutions to that problem. (PsycINFO Database Record
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This study sought to replicate previous work showing relationships between components of schizotypy and conspiracist beliefs, and extend it by examining the mediating role of cognitive processes. An international online sample of 411 women and men (mean age = 35.41 years) completed measures of the schizotypal facets of Odd Beliefs or Magical Thinking and Ideas of Reference, conspiracist beliefs, and cognitive processes related to need for cognition, analytic thinking, and cognitive insight. Path analysis confirmed the associations between both schizotypal facets and conspiracist beliefs in the present sample. Confirmatory evidence was found for the association between analytic thinking and conspiracist beliefs, and results also suggested an association between cognitive insight and conspiracist beliefs. Cognitive insight also mediated the link between Odd Beliefs or Magical Thinking and Ideas of Reference with conspiracist beliefs. However, analytic thinking provided a mediating link to conspiracy ideation for Odd Beliefs or Magical Thinking and not Ideas of Reference. Finally, there was an association between Odd Beliefs or Magical Thinking and need for cognition, but this path did not extend to conspiracist beliefs. These results suggest possible mediating roles for analytic thinking and self-certainty between schizotypy and conspiracist beliefs.
Chapter
An overwhelming percentage of climate scientists agree that human activity is causing the global climate to change in ways that will have deleterious consequences both for the environment and for humankind. While scientists have alerted both the public and policy makers to the dangers of continuing or increasing the current rate of carbon emission, policy proposals intended to curb carbon emission and thereby mitigate climate change have been resisted by a notable segment of the public. Some of this resistance comes from those not wanting to incur costs or change energy sources (i.e., the carbon-based energy industry). Others oppose policies intended to address climate change for ideological reasons (i.e., they are opposed to the collectivist nature of the solutions usually proposed). But perhaps the most alarming and visible are those who oppose solutions to climate change because they believe, or at least claim to believe, that anthropogenic climate change is not really happening and that climate scientists are lying and their data is fake. Resistance, in this latter case, sometimes referred to as climate “skepticism” or “denialism,” varies from region to region in strength but worldwide has been a prominent part of a political force strong enough to preclude both domestic and global policy makers from making binding efforts to avert the further effects of anthropogenic climate change. For example, a 2013 poll in the United States showed that almost 40% believed that climate change was a hoax. Climate skeptics suggest the well-publicized consensus is either manufactured or illusory and that some nefarious force—be it the United Nations, liberals, communists, or authoritarians—want to use climate change as a cover for exerting massive new controls over the populace. This conspiracy-laden rhetoric—if followed to its logical conclusion—expresses a rejection of scientific methods, scientists, and the role that science plays in society. Skeptic rhetoric, on one hand, may suggest that climate skepticism is psychological and the product of underlying conspiratorial thinking, rather than cognitive and the product of a careful weighing of scientific evidence. On the other hand, it may be that skeptics do not harbor underlying conspiratorial thinking, but rather express their opposition to policy solutions in conspiratorial terms because that is the only available strategy when arguing against an accepted scientific consensus. This tactic of calling into question the integrity of science has been used in other scientific debates (i.e., the link between cigarette smoking and cancer). Opinion surveys, however, support the view that climate change denialism is driven at least partially by underlying conspiratorial thinking. Belief in climate change conspiracy theories also appear to drive behaviors in ways consistent with the behaviors of people who think in conspiratorial terms: Climate change conspiracy theorists are less likely to participate politically or take actions that could alleviate their carbon footprint. Furthermore, some climate skeptics reject studies showing that their skepticism is partially a product of conspiratorial thinking: They believe such studies are themselves part of the conspiracy.
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There is now substantial evidence that larger income differences in a society increase the prevalence of most of the health and social problems that tend to occur more frequently lower down the social ladder. The pathways through which human beings are sensitive to inequality are however less clear. This paper outlines the explanatory theory that we think best fits the growing but incomplete body of evidence available. Inequality appears to have its most fundamental effects on the quality of social relations—with implications affecting the prevalence of a number of psychopathologies. We suggest that human beings have two contrasting evolved social strategies: one that is adaptive to living in a dominance hierarchy and the other appropriate to more egalitarian societies based on reciprocity and cooperation. Although both strategies are used in all societies, we hypothesise that the balance between them changes with the extent of material inequality.
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Even though there is growing awareness that economic inequality is harmful for people’s health, the way that such inequality affects social behavior and political attitudes remains poorly understood. Moving beyond a focus on the health and well-being costs of income inequality, we review research that examines how economic inequality shapes dynamics between groups within societies, addressing the questions why, when, and for whom inequality affects social behavior and political attitudes. On the basis of classic social identity theorizing, we develop five hypotheses that focus on the way inequality shapes the fit of wealth categorizations (H1), intergroup relations (H2), and stereotypes about wealth groups (H3). We also theorize how the effects of inequality are moderated by socio-structural conditions (H4) and socio-economic status (H5). Together, these hypotheses provide a theoretically informed account of the way in which inequality undermines the social fabric of society and negatively affects citizen’s social and political behavior.
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While most Americans appear to acknowledge the large gap between the rich and the poor in the United States, it is not clear how the public has responded to recent changes in income inequality. The goal of this study is to make sense of several existing, and at times conflicting, perspectives on how changes in inequality affect public preferences for government action, by demonstrating that each of these perspectives can simultaneously coexist in a logical manner. The argument put forward here is that growing inequality systematically shapes preferences for redistribution in different ways, depending on two important factors: economic context and the type of redistribution being considered. Using time-series cross-sectional data covering over three decades and all 50 states, the findings show that context does affect the degree of the public’s response to inequality and that support for action is stronger for particular types of redistributive policy.
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In this research, we examined how people cope with threats to personal control related to the global economic crisis. Three studies (one correlational and two experimental) tested the prediction that blaming social outgroups could serve as a means to restore a threatened sense of personal control. We found that outgroup blaming attributions are related to higher levels of personal control over the effects of the economic crisis (Study 1). Further, blaming outgroups helps to restore a sense of personal control (Study 2) only when blaming attributions are related to specific versus global causes (i.e., outgroups but not the economic system; Studies 2 and 3). We discuss individual and social implications of outgroup blaming as a form of coping with lack of control in the context of economic crises.
Book
In the three decades to the recent economic downturn, wage gaps widened and household income inequality as measured by GINI increased in a large majority of OECD countries. This occurred even when countries were going through a period of sustained economic and employment growth. This report analyses the major underlying forces behind these developments. It examines to which extent economic globalisation, skill-biased technological progress and institutional and regulatory reforms have had an impact on the distribution of earnings. The report further provides evidence of how changes in family formation and household structures have altered household earnings and income inequality. And it documents how tax and benefit systems have changed in the ways they redistribute household incomes. The report discusses which policies are most promising to counter increases in inequalities and how the policy mix can be adjusted when public budgets are under strain. "Analyses rely on simple statistical techniques that are accessible to a large readership... the graphic and charts are of great help to gain a quick visual grasp of the various issues addressed."
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Humans prefer relatively equal distributions of resources, yet societies have varying degrees of economic inequality. To investigate some of the possible determinants and consequences of inequality, here we perform experiments involving a networked public goods game in which subjects interact and gain or lose wealth. Subjects (n = 1,462) were randomly assigned to have higher or lower initial endowments, and were embedded within social networks with three levels of economic inequality (Gini coefficient = 0.0, 0.2, and 0.4). In addition, we manipulated the visibility of the wealth of network neighbours. We show that wealth visibility facilitates the downstream consequences of initial inequality-in initially more unequal situations, wealth visibility leads to greater inequality than when wealth is invisible. This result reflects a heterogeneous response to visibility in richer versus poorer subjects. We also find that making wealth visible has adverse welfare consequences, yielding lower levels of overall cooperation, inter-connectedness, and wealth. High initial levels of economic inequality alone, however, have relatively few deleterious welfare effects.
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If we wish to more folly account for how conspiracy theories function in twenty-first century America, then we must be able to move beyond treating conspiracy theories solely as flawed arguments. This essay will argue that conspiracies fulfill two roles—the argumentative role traditionally studied that asserts that some powerful entity is engaged in a grand scheme to control or deceive the masses, and what I shall call the coded social critique role-an underlying message that critiques various social, political, or economic institutions and actors. In other words, the point of dispute in the competing theories and government accounts is equally over the different institutions' ethos and legitimacy as it is over the facts of the crash itself.
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Conspiracy thinking is defined as a pattern of explanatory reasoning about events and situations of personal, social, and historical significance in which a "conspiracy" is the dominant or operative actor. While conspiracy thinking exists to some extent probably in every society, the authors note the special prevalence of this type of thinking in the Arab-Iranian-Muslim Middle East, and offer a psychoanalytically based approach to conspiracy thinking based on theories of the paranoid process. The authors also attempt to identify aspects of Arab-Iranian-Muslim culture that may predispose individuals from that culture to conspiracy thinking, especially child-rearing practices, attitudes toward sexuality, and the role of secrecy.
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People are motivated to perceive themselves as having control over their lives. Consequently, they respond to events and cognitions that reduce control with compensatory strategies for restoring perceived control to baseline levels. Prior theory and research have documented 3 such strategies: bolstering personal agency, affiliating with external systems perceived to be acting on the self's behalf, and affirming clear contingencies between actions and outcomes within the context of reduced control (here termed specific structure). We propose a 4th strategy: affirming nonspecific structure, or seeking out and preferring simple, clear, and consistent interpretations of the social and physical environments. Formulating this claim suggests that people will respond to reduced control by affirming structured interpretations that are unrelated to the control-reducing condition, and even those that entail otherwise adverse outcomes (e.g., pessimistic health prospects). Section 1 lays the conceptual foundation for our review, situating the proposed phenomenon in the literatures on control motivation and threat-compensation mechanisms. Section 2 reviews studies that have demonstrated that trait and state variations in perceived control predict a wide range of epistemic structuring tendencies, including pattern recognition and causal reasoning. We posit that these tendencies reflect a common desire for a structured understanding of one's environment. Accordingly, a new meta-analysis spanning the reviewed studies (k = 55) revealed that control reduction predicts nonspecific structure affirmation with a moderate effect size (r = .25). Section 3 reviews research on individual differences and situational moderators of this effect. The discussion addresses the interplay of compensatory control strategies and practical implications. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2015 APA, all rights reserved).
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While the willingness of people to believe unfounded and conspiratorial explanations of events is fascinating and troubling, few have addressed the broader impacts of the dissemination of conspiracy claims. We use survey experiments to assess whether realistic exposure to a conspiracy claim affects conspiracy beliefs and trust in government. These experiments yield interesting and potentially surprising results. We discover that respondents who are asked whether they believe in a conspiracy claim after reading a specific allegation actually report lower beliefs than those not exposed to the specific claim. Turning to trust in government, we find that exposure to a conspiracy claim has a potent negative effect on trust in government services and institutions including those unconnected to the allegations. Moreover, and consistent with our belief experiment, we find that first asking whether people believe in the conspiracy mitigates the negative trust effects. Combining these findings suggests that conspiracy exposure increases conspiracy beliefs and reduces trust, but that asking about beliefs prompts additional thinking about the claims which softens and/or reverses the exposure’s effect on beliefs and trust.
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There is a very large literature examining income inequality in relation to health. Early reviews came to different interpretations of the evidence, though a large majority of studies reported that health tended to be worse in more unequal societies. More recent studies, not included in those reviews, provide substantial new evidence. Our purpose in this paper is to assess whether or not wider income differences play a causal role leading to worse health. We conducted a literature review within an epidemiological causal framework and inferred the likelihood of a causal relationship between income inequality and health (including violence) by considering the evidence as a whole. The body of evidence strongly suggests that income inequality affects population health and wellbeing. The major causal criteria of temporality, biological plausibility, consistency and lack of alternative explanations are well supported. Of the small minority of studies which find no association, most can be explained by income inequality being measured at an inappropriate scale, the inclusion of mediating variables as controls, the use of subjective rather than objective measures of health, or follow up periods which are too short. The evidence that large income differences have damaging health and social consequences is strong and in most countries inequality is increasing. Narrowing the gap will improve the health and wellbeing of populations. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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Using survey data and national statistics on 35 modern democracies, this research explores the relationship between economic and political conditions and support for democracy. As expected from modernization theory, support for democracy tends to be highest in countries with a high level of economic development. More importantly, however, I contribute a new finding that income inequality matters much more. Specifically, citizens from countries with relatively low levels of income inequality tend to be more likely than others to support democracy. I also find that household income is positively related to support for democracy in most countries, though it tends to have its strongest effect if economic development is high and income inequality is low. Finally, even after taking into account the level of economic development in one's country, people from former Communist countries tend to have far less support for democracy than those from more established democracies.