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Belief in Conspiracy Theories

Discuss About The Psychology Of Conspiracy Theories Routledge.

In recent days, there has been increasing interests in the psychological variables that influence the acceptance of conspiracy theories. In this research report, the researcher proposes that the people might be extracted to the conspiracy theories. In comparison to the non-conspiracy explanations, the researchers would compare with non-conspiracy explanations. Although, the comparatively scarce research tests the consequences of conspiracy theories, it does not mean that people would not get fulfilled due to motives (Goertzel 1994).

London bombing, 9/11 incidence, Prince Diana death or Osama-bin Landen assassination are the recent occurrences in the real world that are tagged as a resultant of conspiration theory. Conspiration theory provides an evident alternative to “living with uncertainty”. It is ubiquitous when it come the scope to explain political events and sociological phenomena (Douglas, Sutton and Cichocka 2017). According to the conspiracy mentality, individuals may differ themselves to which they regard in specific conspiration theory.

Despite of the evidences against widespread conspiracist ideology, a monological belief system and relevance among psychological parameters and real word create a fictitious conspiracy theory (Swami et al. 2017). In research cases, lots of limitations are observed for a range of individual psychological factors. Many research articles indicate that the fictitious conspiracy theory is entirely significantly related to the firm belief in the entire real-world conspiracy theory. The theory was significantly associated with firm belief that lower crystallized intelligence.

H1: Belief in conspiracy theory has significant association with Extraversion.

H2: Belief in conspiracy theory has significant association with Openness.

H3: Belief in conspiracy theory has significant association with Neuroticism.

H4: Belief in conspiracy theory has significant association with Conscientiousness.

H5: Belief in conspiracy theory has significant association with Agreeableness.

H6: Belief in conspiracy theory has significant association with CMQ Score.

The researcher is interested in testing the validity of the hypothesis.

Participants of the study are selected randomly community of Australia. To measure the ideation of conspiracist, the researcher designed a data of large range of scale. All the dependent and independent variables are measured by experimentation techniques based on a meticulous review. After receiving the ethical approvals, the researchers and recruited participants collect random sample of the data representing a considerably higher response rate. Participants took part in this experimental survey and are asked to be recruited through individuality

Previously scales were developed for measuring decisions with conspiracist ideation dependent on some equivalent underlying principles. By presenting participants with a range of real-world conspiracy theories, the researcher could obtain an overall measurement of Conspiracist ideation (Swami 2011). The Belief in Specific Conspiracies scale is most globally accepted scale among them. This scale was utilised in this research that is capable to provide information about item construction and content, scale development, internal consistency and number of items (Jost, Banaji and Nosek 2004). Generally, scholars treat these scales as factorially unidimensional in the absence of analyses of their factor structures for treating the items individually.

The Null Hypotheses for Testing Relationships

The data set includes mainly 14 questions in the questionnaire. The variables that are included in this analysis are Beliefs in Conspiracy Theories, Extraversion, Openness, neuroticism, Conscientiousness, Agreeableness and CMQ scores. The data has a total of 242 samples. The dependent variable is assumed as Belief in Conspiracy Theories and the independent variables are assumed one by as Extraversion, Openness, neuroticism, Conscientiousness, agreeableness and CMQ scores.

Belief is a 14-item scale consisting the items that describes prominent conspiracy theories. Lower value interprets complementary false and higher value refers complementary true. Greater scores on this inventory refer higher belief in the range of real-world conspiracy theories. The mean measured scale of “Belief in Conspiracy Theories” is 53.88 and standard deviation of the variable is 25.81. The median of the measurement scale of the variable is 52.5. The histogram of Belief in Conspiracy theory shows that the variable completely does not follow normal distribution. The distribution, no doubt, is a multimodal distribution.

The inter-scale correlation is a very crucial measure in this regard (Bruder et al. 2013). Conspiracy theory significantly correlates the stronger belief in general conspiracy theories. The Person’s correlation coefficients in the range (0 to ± 0.1) indicates that the link is negligible. The correlation coefficients in the range (±0.1 to ±0.4), (±0.4 to ±0.7) and (±0.7 to ±1) show that the link is weak, moderate and strong respectively. CMQ score and Belief in conspiracy theories are highly, positively and significantly correlated with other. The two factors Conscientiousness and Neuroticism are moderately and positively corrrealted to each other. At 5% level of significance, the correlation between Belief in Conspiracy theories and Neuroticism, Conscientiousness and CMQ score is observed. Hence, the null hypothesis of H3, H4 and H6 is accepted with 95% probability. Null hypotheses of H1, H2 and H5 are rejected after getting no evidence of accepting the null hypothesis.

The averages of the six parameters are Extraversion, Openness, Neuroticism, Conscientiousness, Agreeableness and CMQ score are 20.31, 27.38, 20.51, 27.88, 28.90 and 28.16 respectively.

  • It shows that Agreeable has highest average and Extraversion has lowest average.
  • The frequency table of Extraversion shows that the Extraversion of level 21 has highest frequencies (22).
  • The frequency table of Opennness shows that the Openness of level 27 has highest occurrences (30).
  • The frequency distribution table of Neuroticism refers that Neuroticism level 20 has most number of occurrences (25). The frequency table of Conscientiousness indicates that Conscientiousness level 28 has most number of frequencies (29).
  • The frequency of Agreeableness level 29 has most frequencies (29).
  • The frequency distribution table of CMQ score indicates that the level 27 has most number of occurrences (14) in that data set.
  • Extraversion displays that “Extraversion” is normally distributed.
  • “Openness” is distributed as negatively skewed. Its left tail is larger than its right tail.
  • “Neuroticism” shows that it is almost normally distributed.
  • Conscientiousness displays that it is almost normally distributed.
  • Agreeableness is slightly positively skewed distributed.
  • The CMQ score displays that it is also almost normally distributed.
  1. Extraversion and Belief in Conspiracy Theories.
  2. Agreeableness and Belief in Conspiracy Theories
  3. Openness and Belief in Conspiracy Theories
  4. Conscientiousness and Belief in Conspiracy Theories

The reliability statistic of the whole data set indicates that the whole data is very much reliable and valid. The values of Cronbach’s Alpha of all the variables is greater than 0.9. The higher values of the Cronbach’s Alpha indicate that none of the variable could be deleted from the data set.

Psychological parameters drive the popularity of theories of conspiracy that explains crucial events and their characteristics (social, existential and epistemic). One of the most effective existential motives are purely epistemic purposes and causal explanations for the safety and security of the people in their environment. Several early theories and early motives are analysed to detect the decreased and neutralised threats. It also has some social motives that helps to find the expected conspiracy theories to be specially asking to people who get the optimistic image of their selves’ in-group to be challenged. The conspiracy theories reveal the unsettling, destabilizing and potentially alienating. These factors involve disempowered groups that might utilise conspiracy theories by formulating the own understanding of realities for subverting the dominance hierarchies.   

Results

The research report has designed a questionnaire for presenting the conspiration mentality that is also known as Conspiracy Mentality Questionnaire (CQM). The survey instrument is designed to efficiently assess the variabilities of generic tendencies to involve in the conspiracist ideation across and within different cultures. The structure, reliability, measurement, equivalence across cultures, its convergent, predictive validity and discrimination.

The CQM highlights the factors that directly or indirectly influence the psychological behaviour of the people.

  • Agreeableness is a personality trait that manifests itself in personal behavioural identifications as co-operation, sympathy, modesty, altruism and considerate.
  • Extraverted personality of people traits to use the personality outlook for better understanding about make him feel and comfortable in social circumstances. Extraversion has capability to explain the covariance of a wide variety of behaviours concerned for the personality aspects. It enhances the domain of cognitive performance. Extraversion estimates risk and resilience for various forms of psychopathology. The extraverted people are generally talkative, active, energetic, boastful and assertive.
  • Conscientiousness signifies various traits such as organized, efficient, efficient, planful as well as distrustful.
  • Neuroticism characterises anxious, moody, anxious as well as coward people.
  • Openness is a psychological quality of people that makes people imaginative, ironical and intelligent. It also widens the interests.

Table 1: Table of different traits of psychological behaviour

(Source: van Prooijen 2018)

The extraversion associated with conscientiousness enhances the hysteric disorders (Aaker 1997). These factors directly influence the suggested behaviour of specific reasserting individualism. According to Malley, 2000, the conspiracy theories are stemmed from distorted thinking. Conspiracy theories deliver rational attempt to understand complicated phenomenon and tackle with related feelings of powerlessness. As per McHoskey (1995), the discussed conspiracy theories contexts the biased assimilation of information and attitude polarisation. Leman and Cinnirella (2007) displayed that the conspiracy theory rectified the fictitious accounts of an assassination more plausible for its consistency. It results the confirmation bias explained by consistency.


Numerous studies have been developed for measuring conspiration theory. The different types of psychometric properties have been developed for assessing the psychometric properties. These are- “Belief in Conspiration Theories Inventories (BCTI)”, “Conspiracy Mentality Questionnaire (CMQ)”, “One-item Conspiracy measures (OICM)” and “Generic Conspiracist Beliefs Scale (GCBS)”. Ideation of conspiration is usually described as the existence of vast, treacherous and preternaturally effective conspiration network constructed.

For achieving the convergent validity, CMQ was found to be highly correlated with Belief in Conspiracy Theories. There are a number of primary efforts by groups and individuals. Individual variabilities in conspiration mentality have crucial consequences as these estimate prejudice against strong societal groups (Anderson1985). CMQ scale not only develops 12-items but also neglects mentoring any particular alleged conspiracy. It is expected that CMQ administers measuring variables to enhance the quality of general tendency. The outcomes showed the satisfaction with life and self-esteem that was negatively related with ideation of conspiracist. However, the outcomes are consistent with the concept that conspiracist ideation is more common in belief in conspiration theories that is psychometrically measured intelligence.

References:

Aaker, Jennifer L. (1997) "Dimensions of brand personality." Journal of marketing research: 347-356.

Anderson, J. R. (1985). Cognitive psychology and its implications. WH Freeman/Times Books/Henry Holt & Co.

Bruder, M., Haffke, P., Neave, N., Nouripanah, N., & Imhoff, R. (2013). Measuring individual differences in generic beliefs in conspiracy theories across cultures: Conspiracy Mentality Questionnaire. Frontiers in psychology, 4, 225.

Douglas, K. M., Sutton, R. M., & Cichocka, A. (2017). The psychology of conspiracy theories. Current directions in psychological science, 26(6), 538-542.

Goertzel, T. (1994). Belief in conspiracy theories. Political Psychology, 731-742.

Jost, J. T., Banaji, M. R., & Nosek, B. A. (2004). A decade of system justification theory: Accumulated evidence of conscious and unconscious bolstering of the status quo. Political psychology, 25(6), 881-919.

Swami, V., Barron, D., Weis, L., Voracek, M., Stieger, S., & Furnham, A. (2017). An examination of the factorial and convergent validity of four measures of conspiracist ideation, with recommendations for researchers. PloS one, 12(2), e0172617.

Swami, V., Coles, R., Stieger, S., Pietschnig, J., Furnham, A., Rehim, S., & Voracek, M. (2011). Conspiracist ideation in Britain and Austria: Evidence of a monological belief system and associations between individual psychological differences and real?world and fictitious conspiracy theories. British Journal of Psychology, 102(3), 443-463.

van Prooijen, J. W. (2018). The Psychology of Conspiracy Theories. Routledge.

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