How Psychology Define Conspiracy Theory

define conspiracy theory

“Conspiracy theories” are efforts to justify the ultimate causes of major social and political activities and situations by alleging covert schemes hatched by two or more prominent players.

Although conspiracy theories are often associated with governments, they can be applied to any entity considered to be dominant and malevolent. A conspiracy theory is a claim of a conspiracy that may or may not be real.

1.Cognitive Biases

A group of people sitting at a table

Our minds attempt to simplify situations, but the contextual biases that follow do not always correspond to facts.

If you already believe Trump is the biggest thing since sliced bread and are being targeted by rivals. It is easier to follow that train and thought. And fit every information that you get to prove your previous theories.

2.Habit of Finding Patterns

The face of a building

Our minds like finding patterns, but they aren’t so good at distinguishing between random sequences and individual patterns. In truth, we seem to underestimate how often visible patterns occur in random series. Tossing a coin, for example, may yield outcomes that do not seem to be as “random” as they should be.

Illusory pattern perception happens when we interpret significant patterns that aren’t really present, and then we believe we can forecast the future based on the pattern we’ve just made up in our minds. This is something that a lot of habitual gamblers do.


People may support the fact that bad things happen on occasion in anxious, unpredictable times, but this is not always appealing. Conspiracy theorising is a handy means of putting all of the blame for negative stuff happening on “us,” making the illusion that everything would be fine otherwise.

4.Motivated Reading

According to a growing body of study, individuals with differing ideologies are more likely to perceive the same facts differently. Motivated rationality is one mechanism that may understand this robust result. When confronted with evidence that challenges their predispositions, people may use motivated logic to explain new knowledge so that it would not disrupt their previously held worldviews.

5.Role of Education

Higher levels of schooling are correlated with greater cognitive sophistication, which leads to individuals becoming more likely to notice the complexities of a case rather than accepting a simplistic answer for a difficult problem. People are less likely to accept conspiracy theories as their education level and observational styles are combined.

Illusory pattern recognition is often less likely in people who are well trained or thought analytically.

Another factor associated with a lower risk of promoting conspiracy theories is greater media literacy.


Where does this leave conspiracy theory psychology? Clearly, searching for consistent personality features or cognitive biases that distinguish believers from sceptics may not be the most fruitful testing path to explore. Instead, the focus should be on the investigation of conspiracy theories as a social and ideological phenomena.

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