Psychology and Conspiracy Theory

  • Byford J
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Abstract

In everyday discourse, believers in a conspiracy-based explanation are often labelled lunatics, kooks or paranoiacs. They are perceived as having `an essential character weakness predisposing them to paranoia or gullibility' or as `buffeted by forces not only beyond their control but beyond their ken' (Husting and Orr, 2007: 140). In literature on conspiracy theories written by historians, philosophers, sociologists or political scientists, one also frequently encounters explanations which are essentially of a psychological nature. Writers talk of conspiracy theories as manifestations of `paranoia', `anxiety', `fantasy', `hysteria', `projection' and `aggression', or, more recently, as fulfilling a profound psychological need for certainty in the precarious (post-) modern age.

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Byford, J. (2011). Psychology and Conspiracy Theory. In Conspiracy Theories (pp. 120–143). Palgrave Macmillan UK. https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230349216_6

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