1st Edition

The Social Psychology of Gullibility
Conspiracy Theories, Fake News and Irrational Beliefs

ISBN 9780367187934
Published April 17, 2019 by Routledge
352 Pages

USD $59.95

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Book Description

Gullibility, whether we like it or not, is a fundamental characteristic of human beings. In The Social Psychology of Gullibility, Forgas and Baumeister explore what we know about the causes, functions, and consequences of gullibility, and the social psychological processes that promote or inhibit it.

With contributions from leading international researchers, the book reveals what social and cognitive psychology contribute to our understanding of how human judgments and decisions can be distorted and undermined. The chapters discuss the nature and functions of gullibility, the role of cognitive processes in gullibility, the influence of emotion and motivation on gullibility, and social and cultural aspects of gullibility. Underpinned by a wealth of empirical research, contributors explore captivating issues such as the psychology of conspiracy theories, the role of political gullibility, gullibility in science, the role of the internet in fostering gullibility, and the failures of reasoning that contribute to human credulity.

Gullibility has become a dominant topic of interest in public discourse. The Social Psychology of Gullibility is essential reading for researchers, social science students, professionals and practitioners and all those interested in understanding human credulity and the role of gullibility in contemporary public affairs.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1. Homo Credulus: On the social psychology of gullibility. Joseph P. Forgas, University of New South Wales, and Roy F. Baumeister, University of Queensland.

Part I. The Nature and Functions of Credulity

Chapter 2. The mask of love and sexual gullibility. Roy F. Baumeister (University of Queensland), Jessica A Maxwell, Geoffrey P Thomas (Florida state University), and Kathleen D. Vohs (University of Minnesota).

Chapter 3. Gullible but Functional? Information repetition and the formation of beliefs. Christian Unkelbach and Alex Koch, (University of Cologne, Germany).

Chapter 4. Belief in Conspiracy Theories: Looking beyond gullibility. Karen Douglas, Sutton, R. M. and Chicoka, A. (University of Kent, UK).

Chapter 5. Psychological Science Meets a Gullible Post-Truth World. David Myers (Hope College).

Part II. Cognitive processes and gullibility

Chapter 6. Towards a Credible Theory of Gullibility. Joachim I. Krueger (Brown University), Claudia Vogrincic-Haselbacher (University of Graz, Austria), Anthony M. Evans (Tilburg University, The Netherlands).

Chapter 7. Metacognitive Myopia – Gullibility as a Major Obstacle in the Way of Rational Behavior. Klaus Fiedler (University of Heidelberg, Germany).

Chapter 8. The skeptical (ungullible) mindset. Ruth Mayo (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

Chapter 9. Comparing is believing: Ease of comparison as a means to induce gullibility. Fritz Strack (University of Würzburg).

Part III. Affective and Motivational Processes and Gullibility

Chapter 10. On The Role of Affect in Gullibility: Can Positive Mood Increase, and Negative Mood Reduce Credulity? Joseph P. Forgas (University of New South Wales).

Chapter 11. Gullible or Streetwise: How Does the Self Bias Information Processing? C. Neil Macrae, Juliana L. Olivier, Johanna K. Falbén, Marius Golubickis (University of Aberdeen)

Chapter 12. Gullible to Ourselves. David Dunning (University of Michigan).

Chapter 13. The smell of suspicion: How the nose curbs gullibility. Norbert Schwarz (University of Southern California) and Spike W. S. Lee (University of Toronto).

Part IV. Social and Cultural Aspects of Gullibility

Chapter 14. Cultural fluency, mindlessness and gullibility. Daphna Oyserman (University of Southern California).

Chapter 15. Scientific Gullibility. Lee Jussim (Rutgers University), Sean T. Stevens (NYU, Stern School of Business), Nathan Honeycutt (Rutgers University), Stephanie M. Anglin (Carnegie Mellon University), and Nicholas Fox (Rutgers University).

Chapter 16. Gullibility and the envelope of Legitimacy. Joel Cooper and Joseph J. Avery (Princeton University).

Chapter 17. Belief in Conspiracy Theories: Gullibility or Rational Skepticism? Jan-Willem van Prooijen (VU Amsterdam).

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Joseph P. Forgas is Scientia Professor at the University of New South Wales. His research focuses on cognitive and affective processes in interpersonal behavior. For his work he received the Order of Australia, and the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award from the Australian Psychological Society.

Roy F. Baumeister is Professor of Psychology at the University of Queensland. His research deals with self and identity, self-control and self-esteem, finding meaning in life, sexuality, gender, aggression and emotion. He received the William James Award from the Association for Psychological Science for his lifetime achievements. 


"This volume gives credibility and status to gullibility by pulling authors from a variety of theoretical and empirical traditions into a common goal: to explore the evolutionary, historical, and dispositional parameters of, as well as situational influences on, gullibility, delineate its consequences for individuals and public life, and generate proposals for correction. This is an indispensable volume for seasoned and fledging researchers alike."

Constantine Sedikides, Professor and Director, Center for Research on Self and Identity, University of Southampton, UK