Conspiracy Believers Favour Conspiracy Based Explanations of Events Even When They Are the Official Accounts
Dr Kenzo Nera
Individuals differ in their relatively stable propensity to believe in conspiracy theories, namely, conspiracy mentality. Prototypical conspiracy theories claim 1) that some group(s) conspired against the rest of society, and 2) that this truth is concealed by authorities putting forward deceptive “official narratives”. It is therefore unclear if conspiracy believers are drawn to the content of conspiracy theories (i.e., by narratives involving a conspiracy, Sternisko et al., 2020) or to their qualities (i.e., by alternative narratives rejected by authorities). To disentangle these processes, we examined how conspiracy mentality relates to the endorsement of conspiratorial and non-conspiratorial explanations of events, and examined if these relationships were moderated by the respective status of these explanations (official broadcasted by authorities vs. alternative rejected by the authorities). In Studies 1 (n = 364) and 2 (n = 788), participants read the description of a fictitious event (a murder attempt against the French president in 2032). Conspiracy mentality was positively associated with the endorsement of conspiracy-based explanations (involving a political conspiracy), and negatively associated with non-conspiratorial explanations (involving psychological disorder of the shooter). These relationships were not moderated by the status of the narratives. These preliminary results suggest that conspiracy mentality captures a readiness to endorse explanations of events involving a conspiracy, regardless of their status.
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