The Psychology Behind Conspiracy Theories

When people feel threatened and out of control, it’s natural to want to feel more control and bring order to the randomness . Some people resort to conspiracy theories to feel in control.

Experts say that by stepping back and evaluating what makes these theories seem plausible to certain people, we can engage in a more productive dialogue.


The Psychology Behind Conspiracy Theories

Why Do People Believe Conspiracy Theories?

Here’s what the data and experts say about factors that contribute to unproven or disproven narratives:

  • They believe they benefit both socially and existentially from the conspiracy theory;
  • They need to feel unique by knowing “scarce information.”
  • They have a strong sense of individualism. Some people value individual freedoms as a moral imperative. This may lessen their sense of responsibility toward collective concerns.



Ways To Handle Conspiracy Theories

Social media gives people a platform and makes you more prone to seeing and learning that someone you know believes false ideas:

  • Before you engage with someone to convince them that their claims are baseless, ask yourself what you’ll get out of it.
  • If you’ve decided to engage the person in a dialogue go into the conversation knowing you likely won’t change their mind.
  • It's OK to cut them off if their beliefs hurt your mental health and make you or someone else feel physically or emotionally unsafe.


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