Psychology and Conspiracy Theory

  • Byford J
Citations of this article
Mendeley users who have this article in their library.
Get full text


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.




Byford, J. (2011). Psychology and Conspiracy Theory. In Conspiracy Theories (pp. 120–143). Palgrave Macmillan UK.

Register to see more suggestions

Mendeley helps you to discover research relevant for your work.

Already have an account?

Save time finding and organizing research with Mendeley

Sign up for free