Some dare call it conspiracy

Labeling something a conspiracy theory does not reduce belief in it.

Michael Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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Abstract

“Conspiracy theory” is widely acknowledged to be a loaded term. Politicians use it to mock and dismiss allegations against them, while philosophers and political scientists warn that it could be used as a rhetorical weapon to pathologize dissent. In two empirical studies conducted on Amazon Mechanical Turk, I present an initial examination of whether this concern is justified. In Experiment 1, 150 participants judged a list of historical and speculative theories to be no less likely when they were labeled “conspiracy theories” than when they were labeled “ideas.” In Experiment 2 (N5802), participants who read a news article about fictitious “corruption allegations” endorsed those allegations no more than participants who saw them labeled “conspiracy theories.” The lack of an effect of the conspiracy-theory label in both experiments was unexpected and may be due to a romanticized image of conspiracy theories in popular media or a dilution of the term to include mundane speculation regarding corruption and political intrigue.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)695-705
JournalPolitical Psychology
Volume73
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 6 Aug 2015

Keywords

  • Conspiracy theories
  • Labelling
  • Stigma
  • Belief

Cite this

Wood, Michael. / Some dare call it conspiracy : Labeling something a conspiracy theory does not reduce belief in it. In: Political Psychology. 2015 ; Vol. 73, No. 5. pp. 695-705.
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Some dare call it conspiracy : Labeling something a conspiracy theory does not reduce belief in it. / Wood, Michael.

In: Political Psychology, Vol. 73, No. 5, 06.08.2015, p. 695-705.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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