The Role of Identity Subversion in Structuring the Effects of Intergroup Threats and Negative Emotions on Belief in Anti-West Conspiracy Theories in Indonesia

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Abstract

Indonesian Muslims believe in conspiracies, suggesting that the West is behind terrorist attacks in Indonesia. This belief persists despite overwhelming evidence that Islamist radicals were the true perpetrators. The current research examines the role intergroup threats and negative emotions have in moulding this type of conspiratorial belief, and how this role is dependent upon the level of Muslims’ perceived identity subversion, that is, a sense that the Western ways of life have fundamentally changed Islamic identity. Data from 246 Indonesian Muslim students revealed that negative emotions of dejection-agitation towards Western ways of life significantly mediated the effects of both symbolic and realistic threats on belief in anti-West conspiracy theories. The effects of intergroup threats and dejection-agitation on belief in conspiracy theories, as predicted, were contingent on Muslim participants’ perceived identity subversion. Higher symbolic threat, realistic threat and dejection-agitation, indeed, positively predicted the belief, but only when the degree of identity subversion was high. Identity subversion moderated the roles of dejection-agitation in mediating the effect of symbolic and realistic threats in predicting belief in conspiracy theories. More specifically, the empirical evidence of these mediating roles of dejection-agitation was only among Muslim participants with high identity subversion. Finally, theoretical implications and study limitations of the current findings were discussed.

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Mashuri, A., Zaduqisti, E., Sukmawati, F., Sakdiah, H., & Suharini, N. (2016). The Role of Identity Subversion in Structuring the Effects of Intergroup Threats and Negative Emotions on Belief in Anti-West Conspiracy Theories in Indonesia. Psychology and Developing Societies, 28(1), 1–28. https://doi.org/10.1177/0971333615622893

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