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Conspiracies in Times of Social Change: Exploring the Impact of Change-Related Uncertainty on People's Belief in Conspiracy Theories as an Expression of System-Justification Behaviour.

Köppen, Louisa (2021) Conspiracies in Times of Social Change: Exploring the Impact of Change-Related Uncertainty on People's Belief in Conspiracy Theories as an Expression of System-Justification Behaviour.

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Abstract:The study’s goal was to examine the endorsement of conspiracy thinking as means of system-justification behaviour when facing a threat in terms of a social change. The focus was put on effects that might arise from perceptions about the certainty with which a social change is actually about to occur, and thus, will become reality. Further, this study investigated the moderating influence of institutional trust on this relationship. It was expected that high levels of uncertainty about the actual occurrence of a social change would lead to higher levels of conspiracy thinking (H1a) and the belief in existing conspiracy theories (H1b) as an expression of denial of that change and justification of the current status quo. Moreover, institutional trust was expected to buffer this effect, and thus, to decrease the endorsement of conspiracies (H2). Therefore, an experimental online study (N = 305) with three conditions manipulating different levels of certainty about the occurrence of a social change (high uncertainty, low uncertainty, control) has been conducted. No evidence for the anticipated effects could be found. However, high levels of uncertainty about the occurrence of the social change, as well as institutional trust, were associated with lower levels of conspiracy endorsement. Further, indicators that institutional trust might decrease the belief in conspiracies when perceiving high uncertainty could be observed. In sum, communicating uncertainties and establishing trust were found to be main factors to prevent the endorsement of conspiracy theories.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:77 psychology
Programme:Psychology MSc (66604)
Link to this item:http://purl.utwente.nl/essays/86368
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