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Someone is pulling the strings: Hypersensitive agency detection and belief in conspiracy theories

Douglas, Karen, Sutton, Robbie M., Callan, Mitch J., Dawtry, Rael J., Harvey, Annelie J. (2016) Someone is pulling the strings: Hypersensitive agency detection and belief in conspiracy theories. Thinking and Reasoning, 22 (1). pp. 57-77. ISSN 1354-6783. E-ISSN 1464-0708. (doi:10.1080/13546783.2015.1051586)

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13546783.2015.1051586

Abstract

We hypothesized that belief in conspiracy theories would be predicted by the general tendency to attribute agency and intentionality where it is unlikely to exist. We further hypothesized that this tendency would explain the relationship between education level and belief in conspiracy theories, where lower levels of education have been found to be associated with higher conspiracy belief. In Study 1 (N=202) participants were more likely to agree with a range of conspiracy theories if they also tended to attribute intentionality and agency to inanimate objects. As predicted, this relationship accounted for the link between education level and belief in conspiracy theories. We replicated this finding in Study 2 (N=330), whilst taking into account beliefs in paranormal phenomena. These results suggest that education may undermine the reasoning processes and assumptions that are reflected in conspiracy belief.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1080/13546783.2015.1051586
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Psychology > Social Psychology
Depositing User: Karen Douglas
Date Deposited: 13 May 2015 17:36 UTC
Last Modified: 29 May 2019 14:32 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/48402 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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