The Factor Structure of Conspiracist Beliefs

OpenPsych , April 26, 2024, ISSN: 2597-324X


Conspiracy theories are endorsed by a substantial minority of the population, however little research has specifically studied this group distinct from the mainstream public. This study employed a 100 item questionnaire to assess both the attitudes and beliefs relevant to belief in conspiracy theories. Attitudes were assessed using 15 questions indicative of trust in mainstream institutions, and beliefs were measured with 85 questions assessing endorsed belief in a wide variety of conspiracy-theoretic statements. Respondents (N = 191) spanned a broad spectrum of endorsed beliefs, attitudes towards institutions, and self-identity. A lack of trust in mainstream institutions and authority figures was significantly correlated with the extent of belief in conspiracy theories (r = 0.80, p < 0.001). Conspiracist belief was found to have six dimensions: generic conspiracist beliefs, beliefs about aliens, flat Earth beliefs, beliefs about faked events, beliefs about climate change, and beliefs about Jewish conspiracies.
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epistemology, trust, individual differences, conspiracy theory, belief