The article analyses socio-psychological features of the belief in conspiracy theories. The national and foreign approaches to the phenomenon of faith in conspiracy theories as a reaction to the long-term uncertainty are identified. The article emphasized that the spread of conspiracy theories in the modern world is facilitated by the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19 and its recognition as a pandemic. Stressful events can sometimes contribute to the development of an individual’s conspiratorial thinking.
The article emphasizes that the spread of such ideas can be contributed by vast amount of free time (because of introduced quarantine measures) and the active use of social networks. Incidentally, all this can stimulate the development of reflexive processes. The article considers the differential model of reflexivity (D. Leontiev, E. Osin), which differentiates positive (systemic reflection) and negative (quasi-reflection, introspection) reflexive processes. The empirical hypothesis of the study was to examine the existence of significant correlations between belief in conspiracy theories and negative reflexive processes. We conducted the empirical study on relations between reflexive abilities and belief in conspiracy theories associated with COVID-19. The features of the respondents’ reflexive abilities during quarantine restrictions were empirically determined. The studied respondents showed mainly quasi-reflection, which led to unfounded fantasies and acted as a form of psychological protection for moving away from an unpleasant situation, the real solution of which is unattainable. Systemic reflection was less developed, which indicated low adaptability to life situations, as well as described the nature of the analysis of situations in which an individual finds him/herself. The respondents had poor ability to outline life situations in all their interacting aspects.
The performed study on existence and strength of faith in conspiracy theories points to characteristic manifestations of conspiracy theories. The most popular theory among respondents was the belief that coronavirus infection was a biological weapon and was created deliberately in secret laboratories.
The statistical analysis demonstrated a significant two-way relation between quasi-reflection and belief in conspiracy theories.
Bruder, M., Haffke, P., Neave, N., Nouripanah, N., & Imhoff, R. (2013). Measuring individual differences in generic beliefs in conspiracy theories across cultures: Conspiracy Mentality Questionnaire. Frontiers in Psychology, 4, Article 225. Doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00225
Cichocka, A. , Marchlewska, M. , & Golec de Zavala, A. (2016). Does self‐love or self‐hate predict conspiracy beliefs? Narcissism, self‐esteem, and the endorsement of conspiracy theories. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 7, 157–166. Doi: 10.1177/1948550615616170
Darwin, H. , Neave, N. , & Holmes, J. (2011). Belief in conspiracy theories: The role of paranormal belief, paranoid ideation and schizotypy. Personality and Individual Differences, 50, 1289–1293. Doi: 10.1016/j.paid.2011.02.027
Douglas, K. M. , & Sutton, R. M. (2011). Does it take one to know one? Endorsement of conspiracy theories is influenced by personal willingness to conspire. British Journal of Social Psychology, 50, 193–364. Doi: 10.1111/j.2044-8309.2010.02018.x
Douglas, K. M., Sutton, R. M., Callan, M. J., Dawtry, R. J., & Harvey, A. J. (2016). Someone is pulling the strings: Hypersensitive agency detection and belief in conspiracy theories. Thinking and Reasoning, 22, 57– 77. Doi:10.1080/12546783.2015.1051586.
Federico, C. M. , Williams, A. L. , & Vitriol, J. A. (2018). The role of system identity threat in conspiracy theory endorsement. European Journal of Social Psychology. Doi:10.1002/ejsp.2495
Green, R. , & Douglas, K. M. (2018). Anxious attachment and belief in conspiracy theories. Personality and Individual Differences, 125, 30–37. Doi:10.1016/j.paid.2017.12.023
Grzesiak‐Feldman, M. (2013). The effect of high‐anxiety situations on conspiracy thinking. Current Psychology, 32, 100–118. Doi: 10.1007/s12144-013-9165-6
Harambam, J. , & Aupers, S. (2015). Contesting epistemic authority: Conspiracy theories on the boundaries of science. Public Understanding of Science, 24, 466–480. Doi:10.1177/0963662514559891
Jolley, D. , & Douglas, K. M. (2017). Prevention is better than cure: Addressing anti‐vaccine conspiracy theories. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 47, 459–469. Doi:10.1111/jasp.12453
Jolley, D. , Douglas, K. M. , & Sutton, R. M. (2018). Blaming a few bad apples to save a threatened barrel: The system‐justifying function of conspiracy theories. Political Psychology, 39, 465–478. Doi:10.1111/pops.12404
Lantian, A. , Muller, D. , Nurra, C. , Klein, O. , Berjot, S. , & Pantazi, M. (2018). Stigmatized beliefs: Conspiracy theories, anticipated negative evaluation of the self, and fear of social exclusion. European Journal of Social Psychology, Doi:10.1002/ejsp.2498
Leont'yev D.A. , Lapteva E.M. , Osin E.N. , Salikhova A. Zh. Razrabotka metodiki differentsial'noi diagnostiki refleksivnosti // Refleksivnye protsessy i upravlenie: sb. materialov VII Mezhdunar. simp., Moskva, 15–16 okt. 2009 g. / pod red. V.E.Lepskogo. M.: Kogito-Tsentr, 2009. S. 145–150. [in Russian]
Leont'yev, D. A. , & Osin, Ye. N. (2014). Refleksiya «khoroshaya» i «durnaya»: ot ob"yasnitel'noy modeli k differentsial'noy diagnostike [Reflection “good” and “bad”: from an explanatory model to differential diagnosis]. Psikhologiya. Zhurnal vysshey shkoly ekonomiki, 11(4), 110-135. [in Russian]
McCauley, C. , & Jacques, S. (1979). The popularity of conspiracy theories of presidential assassination: A Bayesian analysis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37, 637–644. Doi:10.1037/0022-35184.108.40.2067
Osin, E. N. , & Leontiev, D. A. (2008). Aprobatsiya russkoyazychnykh versii dvukh shkal ekspressotsenki sub”ektivnogo blagopoluchiya [Development of the Russian versions of two scales for express assessment of subjective well-being]. In Materialy III Vserossiiskogo sotsiologicheskogo kongressa [Proceedings of the Third Russian sociological congress]. Moscow: Institute of Psychology of Russian Academy of Sciences; Russian Society of Sociologists [in Russian]
Orosz, G. , Krekό, P. , Paskuj, B. , TόthKirály, I. , Böthe, B. , & RolandLévy, C. (2016). Changing conspiracy beliefs through rationality and ridiculing. Frontiers in Psychology, 7, 15-25. Doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01525
Pishchik, V. І. (2014). Kross-kul'turnyye osobennosti konspirativistskoy mental'nosti [Cross-cultural features of the conspiratorial mentality]. Etnosotsium i mezhnatsional'naya kul'tura, 8 (74), 69-77. [in Russian]
Pishchik, V.I. (2017). Vozmozhnost' izmereniya very v zagovory [Possibility of measuring faith in conspiracies]. - European social science journal,1, 419-424. [in Russian]
Rubinshtein, S. L. (1997). Chelovek i mir [Man and the world]. Moscow: Nauka. [in Russian]
Swami, V. , Coles, R. , Stieger, S. , Pietschnig, J. , Furnham, A. , Rehim, S. , & Voracek, M. (2011). Conspiracist ideation in Britain and Austria: Evidence of a monological belief system and associations between individual psychological differences and real‐world and fictitious conspiracy theories. British Journal of Psychology, 102, 443–463. Doi:10.1111/j.2044-8295.2010.02004.x
Swami, V. (2012). Social psychological origins of conspiracy theories: The case of the Jewish conspiracy theory in Malaysia. Frontiers in Psychology, 3, 1– 9. Doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00280
Swami, V. , Voracek, M. , Stieger, S. , Tran, U. S. , & Furnham, A. (2014). Analytic thinking reduces belief in conspiracy theories. Cognition, 133, 572–585. Doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2014.08.006
Uscinski, J. E., Klofstad, C., & Atkinson, M. D. (2016). What drives conspiratorial beliefs? The role of informational cues and predispositions. Political Research Quarterly, 69(1), 57–71. Doi:10.1177/1065912915621621
Valitskaya L. Ye. (2019). Osobennosti konspirativistskoĭ mental'nosti molodezhi s razlichnymi tipami irratsional'nykh ubezhdeniĭ i tsennosteĭ [Features of the conspiratorial mentality of youth with various types of irrational beliefs and values] Molodoy issledovatel' Dona, 4 (19), 53-67. [in Russian]
Van Prooijen, J.‐W., & Acker, M. (2015). The influence of control on belief in conspiracy theories: Conceptual and applied extensions. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 29, 753– 761. Doi:10.1002/acp.3161.
Van Prooijen, J.‐W. (2016). Sometimes inclusion breeds suspicion: Self‐uncertainty and belongingness predict belief in conspiracy theories. European Journal of Social Psychology, 46, 267–279. Doi:10.1002/ejsp.2157
van Prooijen, J.-W., & Douglas, K. M. (2017). Conspiracy theories as part of history: The role of societal crisis situations. Memory Studies, 10(3), 323–333. Doi:0.1177/1750698017701615
Whitson, J. A. , & Galinsky, A. D. (2008). Lacking control increases illusory pattern perception. Science, 322, 115–117. Doi:10.1126/science.1159845
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Articles in the Psychological Journal are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License International CC-BY that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal. For more detailed information, please, fallow the link - https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/