I think that conspiracy theories have always been around. But in the last 2 years we’ve seen how far they can spread and how dangerous they can be. Drawing from research, I think we should avoid conspiracy theories as much as possible. Here’s why.
Conspiracy theories are often entertaining which is probably one reason why people read them.1 They often involve secret plots, powerful groups, and scary predictions. This often seems more interesting than the plain truth.
But when we read about a conspiracy theory, we’re more likely to believe it is true. According to a study published in 2021, this is partly due to the entertainment value of conspiracy theories.1
When we hear or read an idea several times, we’re more likely to believe that it’s true. This phenomenon is known as the “truth by repetition” effect and it’s been documented in research for decades.2
If you are higher in dark traits, you should know that you’re more likely to believe in conspiracy theories.3 This may be due to some factors such as odd beliefs, fatalism, and distrust of others.3
We need to acknowledge that conspiracy theories are not just harmless ideas that are entertaining. They can be powerful and dangerous and on the internet they can spread like wildfire.
I believe we should try to avoid them to limit the negative impact they have on us, the people we care about and the world we live in.
There are many fascinating studies about conspiracy theories. I’ve written about some of them in Study Spotlight. If you want to understand the psychology of conspiracy theories, sign up to learn more.
- ‘The entertainment value of conspiracy theories’, JW van Prooijen et al. (2021)*
- ‘The Truth About the Truth: A Meta-Analytic Review of the Truth Effect’, Alice Dechêne et al. (2010)
- ‘Actors of the most fiendish character: Explaining the associations between the Dark Tetrad and conspiracist ideation’, Cameron S. Kay (2021)**Studies presented in Study Spotlight