Karen M. Douglas & Robbie M. Sutton
Does it take one to know one? Endorsement of conspiracy theories is influenced by personal willingness to conspire
ABSTRACTOk you got me...
We advance a new account of why people endorse conspiracy theories, arguing that individuals use the social–cognitive tool of projection when making social judgements about others. In two studies, we found that individuals were more likely to endorse conspiracy theories if they thought they would be willing, personally, to participate in the alleged conspiracies. Study 1 established an association between conspiracy beliefs and personal willingness to conspire, which fully mediated a relationship between Machiavellianism and conspiracy beliefs. In Study 2, participants primed with their own morality were less inclined than controls to endorse conspiracy theories – a finding fully mediated by personal willingness to conspire. These results suggest that some people think ‘they conspired’ because they think ‘I would conspire’.
I think the truth is actually the reverse. The truth is, alot of people who refuse to believe in conspiracies do so because they think "They wouldn't do such a thing!". But what they really mean is "I wouldn't do such a thing".
"...The often fantastic nature of conspiracy theories does not necessarily make the scenarios any less plausible. After all, soaps are only a minor exaggeration of real life, a kind of superconcentrated pastiche of the violence, secrecy, and betrayal that exist in the real world. To deny that the absolute lowest in human potential could exist in at least a small coterie of planetary citizens, and then to doubt their ability to gravitate toward each other and to plan, is to be unrealistically naive." - From the Introduction of The Conspiracy Reader by Al Hidell and Joan d'Arc
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