LivingThose who believe in conspiracy theories have this trait...

Those who believe in conspiracy theories have this trait in common

Conspiracy theorists who believe that the Moon landings were faked, that the world is controlled by a sinister little cabal, or are part of the Flat Earth Society who believe that the Earth is flat, t They have similar character traits, scientists found in a study published in the Journal of Individual Differences.

The researchers surveyed 1,200 people asking if they believed in two specific urban myths and also assessed their personalities.

They found that those who tend to believe in conspiracy theories – of any kind – tend to be more suspicious and eccentric, with a tendency to view the world as inherently dangerous. They are suspicious of everything. And they also need to feel special.

“People who are reluctant to believe conspiracy theories tend to have the opposite qualities ,” said Josh Hart, associate professor of psychology at Union College, New York, who conducted the study.

“Conspiracy theorists are also more likely to detect significant patterns that may not exist. In contrast, people who do not believe in these conspiracy theories have the opposite qualities,” Hart again points out.

For the study, Hart and his team asked if they agreed with generic conspiracy statements, such as: “The power of heads of state is secondary, since it is small unknown groups that really control world politics” and ” of scientists manipulate, fabricate or suppress evidence to mislead the public. “

They were also invited to look at a computer screen with randomly moving triangles and were asked to say if they thought there was a pattern to the movement.

They found that people with a set of traits summarized in what we know as ‘schizotypy’ (a personality disorder related to psychosis and, in particular, schizophrenia), or unusual beliefs and fears, were more likely to believe such claims and feel the triangles move in a completely deliberate pattern.

They were also more likely than non-believers to judge meaningless statements as profound. “In other words, they inferred meaning and motive where others did not,” Hart added.

“If you are the type of person who looks at the world and sees a chaotic and malevolent landscape full of injustice and senseless suffering, perhaps there is a modicum of comfort in the notion that there is someone, or a small group of people, responsible of everything. If ‘something is happening’, then at least there is something that could be done about it, “says Hart.

However, the expert admits that conspiracy theories have sometimes been proven correct.

“After the Watergate case, the American public knew that seemingly outlandish speculation about the machinations of powerful actors is sometimes true,” he said. “And when a conspiracy is real, people with a conspiracy mindset may be among the first to pick up on it, while others are duped.”

“Either way, it is important to realize that when reality is ambiguous, our personalities and cognitive biases lead us to adopt the beliefs we have. This knowledge can help us understand our own intuitions,” concludes the researcher.

 Referencia: Partisanship, Individual Differences, and News Media Exposure as Predictors of Conspiracy Beliefs. Barry A. Hollander, Research Article Journal of Individual Differences. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1077699017728919

 

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