- Why did the third World Trade Center building (WTC7) collapse on September 11th , even though it was not struck by any aircraft?
- Why did Princess Diana’s "drunk" driver look sober as he climbed into the car minutes before their deadly accident?
- Could a slender birch tree really have caused the plane crash which killed the President of Poland in 2010?
‘Conspiracy thinking’ – the search for explanations of significant global events in clandestine plots, suppressed knowledge and the secret actions of elite groups – provides simple and logical answers to the social doubts and uncertainties that occur at times of major national and international crises. Contemporary social psychology seeks to explain the human motivation to create, share and receive conspiracy theories, and to shed light on the consequences of these theories for people’s social and political functioning.
This important collection, written by leading researchers in the field, is the first to apply quantitative empirical findings to the subject of conspiracy theorizing. The first section of the book explores conspiracy theories in the context of group perception and intergroup relations, paying particular attention to anti-Semitic conspiracy stereotypes. It then goes on to examine the relationship between an individual’s political ideology and the degree to which they engage in ‘conspiracy thinking’. The concluding part of the book considers the explanatory power of conspiracy, focusing on the link between social paranoia and digital media, and highlighting the social, political, and environmental consequences of conspiracy theories.
The Psychology of Conspiracy will be of great interest to academics and researchers in social and political psychology, and a valuable resource to those in the fields of social policy, anthropology, political science, and cultural studies.
Table of Contents
1. Preface Michal Bilewicz, Aleksandra Cichocka and Wiktor Soral Part 1 Conspiracy Theories in Group Perception 2. Conspiracy Stereotypes: Their socio-psychological antecedents and consequences Michal Bilewicz and Grzegorz Sedek 3. Conspiracy Theories on the Map of Stereotype Content: Survey and Historical Evidence Mikolaj Winiewski, Wiktor Soral, and Michal Bilewicz 4. Grandiose Delusions: Collective Narcissism, Secure In-group Identification and Belief in Conspiracies Aleksandra Cichocka, Agnieszka Golec de Zavala, Marta Marchlewska, Mateusz Olechowski 5. Conspiracy Theory as Collective Motivated Cognition Péter Krekó Part 2 Conspiracy Theories and Ideology 6. Mutual Suspicion at the Political Extremes: How Ideology Predicts Belief in Conspiracy Theories Jan-Willem van Prooijen and André Krouwel 7. Are the High Authoritarians More Prone to Adopt Conspiracy Theories? The Role of Right-wing Authoritarianism in Conspiratorial Thinking Monika Grzesiak-Feldman 8. Beyond (Right-wing) Authoritarianism: Conspiracy Mentality as an Incremental Predictor of Prejudice Roland Imhoff Part 3 Conspiracy Theories as Explanatory Structures 9. Motivated Roots of Conspiracies: The Role of Certainty and Control Motives in Conspiracy Thinking Małgorzata Kossowska and Marcin Bukowski 10. Behind the screen conspirators: Paranoid Social Cognition in an Online Age Olivier Klein, Nicolas Van der Linden, Myrto Pantazi, and Mikhail Kissine 11. The Social, Political, Environmental, and Health-Related Consequences of Conspiracy Theories: Problems and Potential Solutions Karen M. Douglas, Robbie M. Sutton, Daniel Jolley, and Michael J. Wood
Michal Bilewicz is Associate Professor in the Faculty of Psychology, University of Warsaw, Poland.
Aleksandra Cichocka is Lecturer in the School of Psychology, University of Kent, UK.
Wiktor Soral is a PhD Candidate at the Robert B. Zajonc Institute for Social Studies, University of Warsaw, Poland.
"This important volume addresses in a scholarly and systematic manner a topic of the utmost relevance to political perceptions in real world affairs. The contributors explore this intriguing theme from a variety of perspectives that illuminate the diverse psychological underpinnings of human beliefs. A must-read for all those for whom the nexus of psychology and politics represents an overriding interest."
– Arie W. Kruglanski, University of Maryland, College Park, USA
"The Psychology of Conspiracy presents the latest insights from social psychology into the phenomenon of ‘conspiracy thinking’. Co-authored by a collection of leading researchers in the field, this accessible volume comprehensively explores the most recent theory and research to provide an invaluable resource for scholars and students of this fascinating topic."
– Bogdan Wojciszke, University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Warsaw, Poland