Cloak, Dagger, and Paranoia: The Lure of Conspiracy Theories

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A study published by the American Psychological Association in the Psychological Bulletin reveals that conspiracy theories are commonly believed by individuals who possess certain personality traits and motivations. The research found that people with traits such as antagonism and paranoia, and those who feel superior to others, tend to be drawn to such theories. Contrary to popular belief, the need for closure or a sense of control were not the strongest motivators; rather, individuals were more likely to believe in specific conspiracy theories when motivated by social relationships.

People endorse conspiracy theories due to complex combination of personality traits, motivations.A new study suggests that belief in conspiracy theories is driven by certain personality traits and social motivations. Individuals who feel superior to others, exhibit paranoia or antagonism, or perceive social threats, are more likely to believe in such theories, while a need for control or closure doesn’t have as strong an influence.

People can be prone to believe in conspiracy theories due to a combination of personality traits and motivations, including relying strongly on their intuition, feeling a sense of antagonism and superiority toward others, and perceiving threats in their environment, according to research published by the American Psychological Association.

The results of the study paint a nuanced picture of what drives conspiracy theorists, according to lead author Shauna Bowes, a doctoral student in clinical psychology at Emory University.

“Conspiracy theorists are not all likely to be simple-minded, mentally unwell folks – a portrait which is routinely painted in popular culture,” said Bowes. “Instead, many turn to conspiracy theories to fulfill deprived motivational needs and make sense of distress and impairment.”

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