Listen to this article Disordered Personality Traits And Conspiracy Thinking: Ideology Takes Back Seat
Conspiracy theories have gained increasing attention since the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2020 US presidential election. A study published in PLOS One examines the role of personality disorders in conspiracy thinking.
What are Conspiracy Theories?
People who endorse conspiracy theories believe that powerful individuals or groups have secretly planned certain major global events for their own political or personal benefit.Factors like educational level, political affiliation, socioeconomic status, age, and gender can all influence the belief in conspiracy theories.
Previous Research on Personality Disorders and Conspiracy Belief: Previous research has linked personality disorders to higher levels of conspiracy thinking. Specifically, people with clusters A (odd, eccentric) and B (dramatic, erratic) personality traits tend to believe in conspiracy theories more often than people with cluster C (anxious, fearful) personality traits.
Jan Ketil Arnulf, Charlotte Robinson, and Adrian Furnham recruited 397 adult participants from an online database for their study. The majority of the sample were British nationals, currently employed, and aged between 19 and 71. Furthermore participants completed measures on conspiracy thinking, belief in conspiracy theories, Big Five personality traits, general knowledge, and personality disorder symptomology.
Conspiracy Thinking vs. Belief in Conspiracy Theories: Conspiracy thinking and belief in conspiracy theories are two different concepts in psychology research. Conspiracy thinking refers to a cognitive style or pattern of thinking that explains events in terms of secret, malevolent, and powerful groups or individuals who act in a coordinated and deceptive manner. On the other hand, belief in conspiracy theories refers to endorsing a particular conspiracy theory or set of theories.
The researchers found that certain demographic and personality factors, such as lower intelligence, political conservatism, absence of a degree, less extraversion, and higher scores on personality clusters A and C, were linked to conspiracy thinking. Furthermore, they observed that these same factors were associated with endorsing conspiracy theories.
Personality Disorders and Belief in Conspiracy Theories: The findings suggest that personality disorders, rather than ideology or general knowledge, may be related to belief in conspiracy theories.
The study found a link between belief in conspiracy theories and cognitive traits associated with schizotypal disorder.Also prior studies have consistently indicated a strong association between conspiracy thinking and symptoms of paranoid and schizotypal personality disorders.Read more: Disordered Personality Traits And Conspiracy Thinking: Ideology Takes Back Seat