From Flat Earth to aliens and mind-control theories, a new study claims to have revealed the personality types most likely to believe conspiracy theories.
New York: "The earth is flat and not round" or "Apollo 11 moon landing is a hoax by NASA" or more famously, David Icke's 'Reptilian humanoid aka Lizard People' political conspiracy theory have amused many for all these years.
As the reach of social media grew so did conspiracy theories - assumptive notions about proven facts supported by 'evidence' that seek to challenge life as readers/viewers have known it. While reading about such notions is fun and amusing, researchers at Union College in New York have come up with a study that claims that certain people are likelier to believe these theories than others.
Josh Hart, associate professor of psychology, says, "These people tend to be more suspicious, untrusting, eccentric, needing to feel special, with a tendency to regard the world as an inherently dangerous place," Hart said. "They are also more likely to detect meaningful patterns where they might not exist. People who are reluctant to believe in conspiracy theories tend to have the opposite qualities."
Not only this, his previous research has shown that people gravitate toward conspiracy theories that affirm or validate their political views. In that scenario, Republicans are vastly more likely than Democrats to believe the Obama "birther" theory or that climate change is a hoax. Meanwhile, some people are also habitual conspiracists who entertain a variety of generic theories.
This study also showed that conspiracy theory believers possess personality characteristics collectively referred to as 'schizotypy,' a trait named after schizophrenia and were more likely than nonbelievers to judge nonsensical statements as profound (a tendency known as "BS receptivity").
Conclusion? "First, it helps to realize that conspiracy theories differ from other worldviews in that they are fundamentally gloomy," Hart said. "This sets them apart from the typically uplifting messages conveyed by, say, religious and spiritual beliefs. At first blush, this is a conundrum. However, if you are the type of person who looks out at the world and sees a chaotic, malevolent landscape full of senseless injustice and suffering, then perhaps there is a modicum of comfort to be found in the notion that there is someone, or some small group of people, responsible for it all."
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Last Updated Mar 18, 2019, 5:32 PM IST