e-space
Manchester Metropolitan University's Research Repository

“If they believe, then so shall I”: Perceived beliefs of the in-group predict conspiracy theory belief

Cookson, Darel and Jolley, Daniel and Dempsey, Robert C and Povey, Rachel (2021) “If they believe, then so shall I”: Perceived beliefs of the in-group predict conspiracy theory belief. Group Processes and Intergroup Relations, 24 (5). pp. 759-782. ISSN 1368-4302

[img]
Preview

Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (1MB) | Preview

Abstract

Conspiracy beliefs are widespread and can have detrimental consequences. As perceived social norms can exert a powerful influence on individuals, we investigated the relationship between perceived conspiracy belief norms and personal endorsement, and whether others’ conspiracy belief is overestimated. In Study 1, UK university students (N = 111) completed measures of their personal conspiracy beliefs and estimations of others’ beliefs (an in-group and an out-group they chose, and a prescribed in-group). Perceived in-groups’ belief strongly predicted personal conspiracy belief; perceived out-group’s belief did not. Studies 2 and 3 replicated these findings in a British community sample (N = 177) and in a UK parent sample (N = 197), focusing on antivaccine conspiracy theories. All studies demonstrated that people overestimate the conspiracy beliefs of others. This is the first demonstration of the association between perceived in-group conspiracy belief social norms and individuals’ personal conspiracy beliefs. Interventions challenging misperceived norms could be effective in reducing conspiracy beliefs.

Impact and Reach

Statistics

Downloads
Activity Overview
6Downloads
164Hits

Additional statistics for this dataset are available via IRStats2.

Altmetric

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item