Psychologists have found that belief in conspiracy theories is more driven by personality disorders than by ideological stance or other factors. This is stated in a study published in the fall of 2022 in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS One, which has now been brought to the attention of the PsyPost portal.
In their work, Jan Ketil Arnulf, Charlotte Robinson and Adrian Furnham conducted a survey of 397 adult subjects. Most of them were Britons aged 19 to 71 years old, with a steady income.
The researchers tried to find out what factors influence both a person's propensity for conspiracy thinking and belief in conspiracy theories.
Conspiracy thinking here is a way of thinking in which individuals who are prone to it explain all kinds of events as conspiracies by secret powerful groups or individuals who work together to achieve some sinister goal.
Belief in conspiracy theories involves the promotion of already known specific theories of this kind.
The results of the study showed that the propensity for conspiracy theories is associated with various demographic and personality factors. Conspiracy thinking is inherent in individuals with a relatively low level of intelligence, who have conservative views and do not have a higher education. These people also appeared to be more introverted and prone to personality disorders. Similar results were obtained when testing the propensity to believe in already existing conspiracy theories.
The authors of the study note that, although such behavior is indeed to some extent related to the ideological attitudes and level of knowledge of the subject, to a greater extent the connection can be traced here with anxiety and eccentric personality disorders.
At the same time, psychologists emphasize that the results of their study do not indicate that all conspiracy theorists have similar mental disorders. In their opinion, the personality traits of a person, the level of his knowledge and the ideological environment in which he is lead to interest in conspiracy theories. However, it is people with personality disorders who tend to fully accept and actively disseminate such ideas, who have a significant influence on those who are only interested in such theories.
In recent years, belief in conspiracy theories has played a significant role not only in public space, but also in world politics. The COVID-19 pandemic and the US presidential election have generated a lot of speculation about the nature of the events taking place.
Representatives of the Russian leadership and elites also often build their conclusions on the basis of a conspiracy picture of the world that cannot be substantiated by facts, and also use it to explain their actions.
So, Secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation Nikolai Patrushev said that billionaire philanthropist George Soros "rules Europe", "London ruined the Russian Empire" and "corporations killed Lincoln."
Mikhail Kovalchuk, president of the Kurchatov Institute, brother of Vladimir Putin's friend, head of Rossiya Bank Yuri Kovalchuk, in turn, has repeatedly spoken about the so-called Western plan to create a "service man." According to him, “a service person has a limited self-awareness, his reproduction is under external control, genetically modified organisms serve him as cheap food.” The earliest mention of the "official man" can be heard in the 1960s Soviet feature film Dead Season.