Public Event – Karen Douglas

The Psychology of Conspiracy Theories

What psychological factors drive the popularity of conspiracy theories, that explain significant events and circumstances as secret plots by powerful and malevolent groups? What are the psychological consequences of adopting these theories?  In this talk, I will review research that attempts to answer these questions.  This research suggests that belief in conspiracy theories is driven by motives that can be characterised as epistemic (understanding one’s environment), existential (being safe and in control of one’s environment) and social (maintaining a positive image of the self and the social group).  However, whether or not these motives are satisfied by conspiracy theories remains an open question. In fact, current research suggests that conspiracy theories may further frustrate, rather than fulfill, these psychological motives. â€‹

Karen Douglas is a Professor of Social Psychology at the University of Kent.  She studies the psychological processes that explain belief in conspiracy theories, and some of the social, health and environmental consequences of conspiracy theories.​”