Portrait of Professor Karen Douglas

Professor Karen Douglas

Professor of Social Psychology
Director of Graduate Studies (Taught)


Professor Karen Douglas is a Professor of Social Psychology, and Director of Graduate Studies (Taught) in the School of Psychology.

Research interests

Karen's research focus is on beliefs in conspiracy theories. Why are conspiracy theories so popular? Who believes them? Why do people believe them? What are some of the consequences of conspiracy theories and can such theories be harmful? She is also interested in the social psychology of human communication, including the influence of technology on social interaction, and the psychology of sexist language.

Key publications

  • Douglas, K.M., Uscinski, J., Sutton, R.M., Cichocka, A., Nefes, T., Ang, J., & Deravi, F. (2019). Understanding conspiracy theories. Advances in Political Psychology, 40 (S1), 3-35. (https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/pops.12568
  • Douglas, K.M., & Sutton, R.M. (2018). Why conspiracy theories matter: A social psychological analysis. European Review of Social Psychology, 29, 256-298. 
  • Douglas, K., Sutton, R., & Cichocka, A. (2017). The psychology of conspiracy theories. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 26, 538-542. (https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0963721417718261)
  • Jolley, D., Douglas, K.M., & Sutton, R.M. (2018). Blaming a few bad apples to save a threatened barrel: The system-justifying function of conspiracy theories. Political Psychology, 39, 465-478.

Conspiracy theory research database
This is a database of the current academic literature on conspiracy theories, and literature on other closely-related topics. Production was supported by the Centre for Research and Evidence on Security Threats (ESRC Award: ES/N009614/1). We intend to keep it up to date and re-post every three months. If you have any updates you would like to include, or notice any sources missing, please complete this form.

Media coverage

Coverage of Karen's research includes the following:

Karen is available for media interviews via the University's press office (pressoffice@kent.ac.uk) or 01227 823985.


Current research students

Past research students

  • Dr Varoth Chotipitayasunondh: Understanding phubbing: the truth on phone snubbing behaviour
  • Dr Daniel Jolley: Social psychological consequences of conspiracy theories
  • Dr Michael Wood: Understanding beliefs in conspiracy theories
  • Dr Yvonne Skipper: The effects of different forms of praise and criticism on reactions to success and failure
  • Dr Jennifer Cole: How impressions of persons are shaped by their descriptions of others. (Co-supervisor with Robbie Sutton)
  • Dr Tracey Elder: The effects of context on perceptions of and reactions to, group criticism.


Grants and awards

2019R. Sutton, K. Dhont, Z. Bergstrom & K. Douglas 
Leverhulme Trust
Moral memory bias about the sentience of animals
2016K. Douglas, R. Sutton, A. Cichocka, J. Ang and F. Deravi
Understanding conspiracy theories
2014F. Deravi, J. Ang and K. Douglas
Roke Manor Research Ltd.
Personality and social networking activity
2014R. Sutton and K. Douglas
Centre for Defence Enterprise
Multiple social identities
Centre for Defence Enterprise
Influence and critical thinking
2012J. Ang, F. Deravi and K. Douglas
Centre for Defence Enterprise 
Cognitive and behavioural concepts of cyber activities
2012J. Ang, F. Deravi and K. Douglas
Centre for Defence Enterprise 
Social influence and social networking activity
2010K. Douglas 
European Social Cognition Network
Intercultural communication - expert meeting
EUR 9,000
July 2008-July 2009R. Sutton and K. Douglas
Economic and Social Research Council 
Making a difference? Understanding the impacts of group criticism. Grant awarded under bilateral 'Linkage International Social Sciences Collaboration' between the ARC and ESRC
May 2008-May 2009R. Sutton & K. Douglas
Australian Research Council 
Negotiating the minefield: Social conventions surrounding group criticism and their role in explaining defensiveness. Grant awarded under bilateral Linkage International Social Sciences Collaboration" between the ARC and ESRC, PI M. Hornsey (University of Queensland)
AU $72,129
May 2008-Dec 2008Social Sciences Faculty Grant£734
Feb 2007-Jan 2008K. Douglas and R. Sutton
Economic and Social Research Council
Understanding and altering perceptions of personal ‘invulnerability’ to persuasive advertising
May 2006K. Douglas
Social Sciences Faculty Grant
March 2006K. Douglas
British Academy Conference Grant
January 2006R. Sutton and K. Douglas
University of Kent Promising Researcher Grant
Sept 2005-Sept 2006R. Sutton and K. Douglas
Economic and Social Research Council
'Us' versus 'Them': Reactions to speakers' use of language regarding groups
Sept 2004-Sept 2005K. Douglas and R. Sutton
Economic and Social Research Council
Inhibiting the expression of linguistic biases and stereotypes
Jan 2004-June 2004K. Douglas and R. Sutton
British Academy 
Bias and stereotyping in language
April 2003K. Douglas
British Academy Conference Grant

Other service

  • Associate editor for Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin (2019-present)
  • Co-editor for a special issue of the European Journal of Social Psychology (2018)
  • External examiner (undergraduate) for Lancaster University (2016-present)
  • Co-editor for the British Journal of Social Psychology (2014-2017)
  • External examiner (postgraduate) for Nottingham Trent University (2014-2018)
  • External examiner (undergraduate) for the University of Surrey (2014-2016)
  • Associate Editor for the British Journal of Social Psychology (2012-2013)
  • Undergraduate external examiner at the University of Strathclyde (2010-2012)
  • Member of University Senate (2009-2012)
  • Associate Editor for the European Journal of Social Psychology (2009-2011)
  • Associate Editor for Social Psychology (2008-2011)
  • Co-editor for a special issue of the Journal of Language and Social Psychology (2008)


Showing 50 of 89 total publications in the Kent Academic Repository. View all publications.


  • Sutton, R., & Douglas, K. (2020). Agreeing to disagree: Reports of the popularity of Covid-19 conspiracy theories are greatly exaggerated. Psychological Medicine. doi:10.1017/S0033291720002780
  • Biddlestone, M., Green, R., & Douglas, K. (2020). Cultural orientation, powerlessness, belief in conspiracy theories, and intentions to reduce the spread of COVID-19. British Journal of Social Psychology. doi:10.1111/bjso.12397
    The current study investigated cultural and psychological factors associated with intentions to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Participants (n = 704) completed measures of individualism–collectivism, belief in conspiracy theories about COVID-19, feelings of powerlessness, and intentions to engage in behaviours that reduce the spread of COVID-19. Results revealed that vertical individualism negatively predicted intentions to engage in social distancing, directly and indirectly through both belief in COVID-19 conspiracy theories and feelings of powerlessness. Vertical collectivism positively predicted social distancing intentions directly. Horizontal collectivism positively predicted social distancing intentions indirectly through feelings of powerlessness. Finally, horizontal collectivism positively predicted hygiene-related intentions both directly and indirectly through lower feelings of powerlessness. These findings suggest that promoting collectivism may be a way to increase engagement with efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19. They also highlight the importance of examining the interplay between culture and both personal feelings (powerlessness) and information consumption (conspiracy theories) during times of crisis.
  • van Bavel, J., Baicker, K., Boggio, P., Capraro, V., Cichocka, A., Cikara, M., Crockett, M., Crum, A., Douglas, K., Druckman, J., Drury, J., Drube, O., Ellemers, N., Finkel, E., Fowler, J., Gelfand, M., Han, S., Haslam, S., Jetten, J., Kitayama, S., Mobbs, D., Napper, L., Packer, D., Pennycook, G., Peters, E., Petty, R., Rand, D., Reicher, S., Schnall, S., Shariff, A., Skitka, L., Smith, S., Sunstein, C., Tabri, N., Tucker, J., van der Linden, S., Van Lange, P., Weeden, K., Wohl, M., Zaki, J., Zion, S., & Willer, R. (2020). Using social and behavioural science to support COVID-19 pandemic response. Nature Human Behaviour, 4, 460-471. doi:10.1038/s41562-020-0884-z
    The COVID-19 pandemic represents a massive, global health crisis. Because the crisis requires large-scale behavior change and poses significant psychological burdens on individuals, insights from the social and behavioural sciences are critical for optimizing pandemic response. Here we review relevant research from a diversity of research areas relevant to different dimensions of pandemic response. We review foundational work on navigating threats, social and cultural factors, science communication, moral decision-making, leadership, and stress and coping that is relevant to pandemics. In each section, we outline implications for solving public health issues related to COVID-19. This interdisciplinary review points to several ways in which research can be immediately applied to optimize response to this pandemic, but also points to several important gaps that researchers should move quickly to fill in the coming weeks and months.
  • Sutton, R., & Douglas, K. (2020). Conspiracy theories and the conspiracy mindset: Implications for political ideology. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, 34, 118-122. doi:10.1016/j.cobeha.2020.02.015
    We consider the significance of belief in conspiracy theories for political ideologies. Although there is no marked ideological asymmetry in conspiracy belief, research indicates that conspiracy theories may play a powerful role in ideological processes. In particular, they are associated with ideological extremism, distrust of rival ideological camps, populist distrust of mainstream politics, and ideological grievances. The “conspiracy mindset” characterizes the ideological significance of conspiracy belief, and is associated with measuring conspiracy belief by means of abstract propositions associated with aversion and distrust of powerful groups. We suggest that this approach does not pay sufficient attention to the nonrational character of specific conspiracy beliefs and thus runs the risk of mischaracterizing them, and mischaracterizing their ideological implications.
  • Douglas, K., Uscinski, J., Sutton, R., Cichocka, A., Nefes, T., Ang, C., & Deravi, F. (2019). Understanding conspiracy theories. Advances in Political Psychology, 40, 3-35. doi:10.1111/pops.12568
    Scholarly efforts to understand conspiracy theories have grown significantly in recent years, and there is now a broad and interdisciplinary literature that we review in this article. We ask three specific questions. First, what are the factors that are associated with conspiracy theorizing? Our review of the literature shows that conspiracy beliefs result from a range of psychological, political and social factors. Next, how are conspiracy theories communicated? Here, we explain how conspiracy theories are shared among individuals and spread through traditional and social media platforms. Next, what are the risks and rewards associated with conspiracy theories? By focusing on politics and science, we argue that conspiracy theories do more harm than good. Finally, because this is a growing literature and many open questions remain, we conclude by suggesting several promising avenues for future research.
  • Jolley, D., Meleady, R., & Douglas, K. (2019). Exposure to intergroup conspiracy theories promotes prejudice which spreads across groups. British Journal of Psychology, 111, 17-35. doi:10.1111/bjop.12385
    This research experimentally examined the effects of exposure to intergroup conspiracy theories on prejudice and discrimination. Study 1 (N = 166) demonstrated that exposure to conspiracy theories concerning immigrants to Britain from the European Union (vs. anti-conspiracy material or a control) exacerbated prejudice towards this group. Study 2 (N = 173) found the same effect in a different intergroup context—exposure to conspiracy theories about Jewish people (vs. anti-conspiracy material or a control) increased prejudice towards this group and reduced participants’ willingness to vote for a Jewish political candidate. Finally, Study 3 (N = 114) demonstrated that exposure to conspiracy theories about Jewish people not only increased prejudice towards this group but was indirectly associated with increased prejudice towards a number of secondary outgroups (e.g., Asians, Arabs, Americans, Irish, Australians). The current research suggests that conspiracy theories may have potentially damaging and widespread consequences for intergroup relations.
  • Skipper, Y., & Douglas, K. (2019). Examining teachers’ ratings of feedback following success and failure: A study of Chinese English teachers. British Journal of Educational Psychology. doi:10.1111/bjep.12261
    Background: Previous research has explored the impact of different types of praise and criticism on how children experience success and failure. However, less is known about how teachers choose to deliver feedback and specifically whether they deliver person (ability) or process (effort) feedback.
    Aim: The aim of the current study was to use vignettes to explore how teachers would deliver feedback following success and failure.
    Sample: The sample consisted of Chinese Primary school English teachers (N=169).
    Method: Participants read vignettes depicting children’s educational successes and failures. They rated their perceptions of task difficulty, likelihood of giving feedback, and likelihood of giving both person and process forms of feedback. They also completed measures of whether they viewed intelligence as fixed or malleable.
    Results: Results suggested that teachers stated that they would be more likely to give praise than criticism and would be more likely to give feedback for tasks perceived to be more challenging than easy. Following success, teachers endorsed the use of person and process feedback interchangeably, while following failure they endorsed more process feedback. Finally, teachers’ understanding of intelligence was also associated with feedback delivery. If teachers believed that intelligence was fixed (vs. something that can be developed), they said that they were more likely to give more person and process praise, but following failure gave more process feedback.
    Conclusion: The current research gives insight into how teachers give feedback, and how perceived task difficulty and teachers’ views of intelligence can influence these choices. Further research is needed to understand why teachers may make these decisions.
  • Jolley, D., Douglas, K., Leite, A., & Schrader, T. (2019). Belief in conspiracy theories and intentions to engage in everyday crime. British Journal of Social Psychology, 58, 534-549. doi:10.1111/bjso.12311
    Belief in conspiracy theories is associated with negative outcomes such as political disengagement, prejudice, and environmental inaction. The current studies—one cross-sectional (N = 252) and one experimental (N = 120)—tested the hypothesis that belief in conspiracy theories would increase intentions to engage in everyday crime. Study 1 demonstrated that belief in conspiracy theories predicted everyday crime behaviours when controlling for other known predictors of everyday crime (e.g., Honesty-Humility). Study 2 demonstrated that exposure to conspiracy theories (vs. control) increased intentions to engage in everyday crime in the future, through an increased feeling of anomie. The perception that others have conspired may therefore in some contexts lead to negative action rather than inaction.
  • Douglas, K., & Sutton, R. (2018). Why conspiracy theories matter: A social psychological analysis. European Review of Social Psychology, 29, 256-298. doi:10.1080/10463283.2018.1537428
    Although conspiracy theories have arguably always been an important feature of social life, they have only attracted the attention of social psychologists in recent years. The last decade, however, has seen an increase in social psychological research on this topic that has yielded many insights into the causes and consequences of conspiracy thinking. In this article, we draw on examples from our own programme of research to highlight how the methods and concepts of social psychology can be brought to bear on the study of conspiracy theories. Specifically, we highlight how basic social cognitive processes such as pattern perception, projection, and agency detection predict the extent to which people believe in conspiracy theories. We then highlight the role of motivations such as the need for uniqueness, and the motivation to justify the system, in predicting the extent to which people adopt conspiracy explanations. We next discuss how conspiracy theories have important consequences for social life, such as decreasing engagement with politics and influencing people’s health and environmental decisions. Finally, we reflect on some of the limitations of research in this domain and consider some important avenues for future research.
  • Hopkins-Doyle, A., Sutton, R., Douglas, K., & Calogero, R. (2018). Flattering to deceive: Why people misunderstand Benevolent Sexism. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 116, 167-192. doi:10.1037/pspa0000135
    Perceptions of warmth play a central role in social cognition. Seven studies employ observational, correlational, and experimental methods to examine its role in concealing the functions of benevolent sexism. Together, Studies 1 (n = 297), 2 (n = 252) and 3 (n = 219) indicated that although women recall experiencing benevolent (vs. hostile) sexism more often, they protest it less often, because they see it as warm. In Studies 4 (n = 296) and 5 (n = 361), describing men as high in benevolent sexism caused them (via warmth) to be seen as lower in hostile sexism and more supportive of gender equality. In Study 6 (n = 283) these findings were replicated and extended, revealing misunderstanding of relationships between BS and a wide array of its correlates. In Study 7 (n = 211), men experimentally described as harboring warm (vs. cold) attitudes toward women were perceived as higher in benevolent sexism but lower in known correlates of benevolent sexism. These findings demonstrate that the warm affective tone of benevolent sexism, particularly when displayed by men, masks its ideological functions.
  • Chotpitayasunondh, V., & Douglas, K. (2018). Measuring Phone Snubbing Behavior: Development and Validation of the Generic Scale of Phubbing (GSP) and the Generic Scale of Being Phubbed (GSBP). Computers in Human Behavior. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2018.06.020
    Ignoring and being ignored by others in favor of a smartphone is a common feature of everyday communication. However, little research has examined this phenomenon known as phubbing and even less research has determined how to measure it. This paper reports the results of six studies designed to develop and validate the Generic Scale of Phubbing (GSP) to assess phubbing behavior, and the Generic Scale of Being Phubbed (GSBP) to assess the experience of being phubbed. After reducing and refining items with the assistance of expert panels, exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses were conducted to further reduce the number of items and finalize the scales. Finally, the psychometric properties of both scales were examined. Data from 1,836 respondents from the general public were recruited from six online surveys (N = 352, 333, and 224 for the GSP; N = 358, 341, and 228 for the GSBP). The four-factor 15-item GSP and the three-factor 22-item GSBP were developed and revealed good construct validities, criterion validities, convergent validities, discriminant validities, internal consistency reliabilities, and test-retest reliabilities.
  • Chotpitayasunondh, V., & Douglas, K. (2018). The effects of "phubbing" on social interaction. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 48, 304-316. doi:10.1111/jasp.12506
    This research experimentally investigated the social consequences of “phubbing” – the act of snubbing someone in a social setting by concentrating on one’s mobile phone. Participants viewed a three-minute animation in which they imagined themselves as part of a dyadic conversation. Their communication partner either phubbed them extensively, partially, or not at all. Results revealed that increased phubbing significantly and negatively affected perceived communication quality and relationship satisfaction. These effects were mediated by reduced feelings of belongingness and both positive and negative affect. This research underlines the importance of phubbing as a modern social phenomenon to be further investigated.
  • Chotpitayasunondh, V., & Douglas, K. (2018). The effects of "phubbing" on social interaction. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 48, 304-316. doi:10.1111/jasp.12506
    This research experimentally investigated the social consequences of “phubbing” – the act of snubbing someone in a social setting by concentrating on one’s mobile phone. Participants viewed a three-minute animation in which they imagined themselves as part of a dyadic conversation. Their communication partner either phubbed them extensively, partially, or not at all. Results revealed that increased phubbing significantly and negatively affected perceived communication quality and relationship satisfaction. These effects were mediated by reduced feelings of belongingness and both positive and negative affect. This research underlines the importance of phubbing as a modern social phenomenon to be further investigated.
  • Jolley, D., Douglas, K., & Sutton, R. (2018). Blaming a few bad apples to save a threatened barrel: The system-justifying function of conspiracy theories. Political Psychology, 39, 465-478. doi:10.1111/pops.12404
    This research demonstrates that conspiracy theories – often represented as subversive alternatives to establishment narratives – may bolster, rather than undermine, support for the social status quo when its legitimacy is under threat. A pilot study (N = 98) found a positive relationship between conspiracy belief and satisfaction with the status quo. In Study 1 (N = 120), threatening (vs. affirming) the status quo in British society caused participants to endorse conspiracy theories. In Study 2 (N = 159), exposure to conspiracy theories increased satisfaction with the British social system after this had been experimentally threatened. In Study 3 (N = 109), this effect was mediated by the tendency for participants exposed (vs. not exposed) to conspiracy theories to attribute societal problems relatively more strongly to small groups of people rather than systemic causes. By blaming tragedies, disasters and social problems on the actions of a malign few, conspiracy theories can divert attention from
    the inherent limitations of social systems.
  • Green, R., & Douglas, K. (2018). Anxious attachment and belief in conspiracy theories. Personality and Individual Differences, 125. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2017.12.023
    This research examined the link between attachment styles and belief in conspiracy theories. It was hypothesized, due to the tendency to exaggerate the intensity of threats, that higher anxiously attached individuals would be more likely to hold conspiracy beliefs, even when accounting for other variables such as right-wing authoritarianism, interpersonal trust, and demographic factors that have been found to predict conspiracy belief in previous research. In Study 1 (N = 246 Amazon Mechanical Turk workers), participants higher in anxious attachment style showed a greater tendency to believe in conspiracy theories. Further, this relationship remained significant when accounting for other known predictors of conspiracy belief. Study 2 (N = 230 Prolific Academic workers) revealed that anxious attachment again predicted the general tendency to believe conspiracy theories, but also belief in specific conspiracy theories and conspiracy theories about groups. These relationships held when controlling for demographic factors. The current studies add to the body of research investigating the individual differences predictors of conspiracy belief, demonstrating that conspiracy belief may, to some degree, have roots in early childhood experiences.
  • van Prooijen, J., & Douglas, K. (2018). Belief in Conspiracy Theories: Basic Principles of an Emerging Research Domain. European Journal of Social Psychology, 48, 897-908. doi:10.1002/ejsp.2530
    In this introduction to the EJSP Special Issue on conspiracy theories as a social psychological phenomenon, we describe how this emerging research domain has developed over the past decade and distill four basic principles that characterize belief in conspiracy theories. Specifically, conspiracy theories are consequential as they have a real impact on people's health, relationships, and safety; they are universal in that belief in them is widespread across times, cultures, and social settings; they are emotional given that negative emotions and not rational deliberations cause conspiracy beliefs; and they are social as conspiracy beliefs are closely associated with psychological motivations underlying intergroup conflict. We then discuss future research and possible policy interventions in this growing area of enquiry.
  • Douglas, K., Sutton, R., & Cichocka, A. (2017). The psychology of conspiracy theories. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 26, 538-542. doi:10.1177/0963721417718261
    What psychological factors drive the popularity of conspiracy theories that explain important events as secret plots by powerful and malevolent groups? What are the psychological consequences of adopting these theories? We review the current research, and find that it answers the first of these questions more thoroughly than the second. Belief in conspiracy theories appears to be driven by motives that can be characterized as epistemic (understanding one’s environment), existential (being safe and in control of one’s environment) and social (maintaining a positive image of the self and the social group). However, little research has investigated the consequences of conspiracy belief, and to date, this research does not indicate that conspiracy belief fulfills people’s motivations. Instead, for many people conspiracy belief may be more appealing than satisfying. Further research is needed to determine for whom, and under what conditions, conspiracy theories may satisfy key psychological motives.
  • van Prooijen, J., Douglas, K., & De Inocencio, C. (2017). Connecting the Dots: Illusory Pattern Perception Predicts Belief in Conspiracies and the Supernatural. European Journal of Social Psychology, 48, 320-335. doi:10.1002/ejsp.2331
    A common assumption is that belief in conspiracy theories and supernatural phenomena are grounded in illusory pattern perception. In the present research we systematically tested this assumption. Study 1 revealed that such irrational beliefs are related to perceiving patterns in randomly generated coin toss outcomes. In Study 2, pattern search instructions exerted an indirect effect on irrational beliefs through pattern perception. Study 3 revealed that perceiving patterns in chaotic but not in structured paintings predicted irrational beliefs. In Study 4, we found that agreement with texts supporting paranormal phenomena or conspiracy theories predicted pattern perception. In Study 5, we manipulated belief in a specific conspiracy theory. This manipulation influenced the extent to which people perceive patterns in world events, which in turn predicted unrelated irrational beliefs. We conclude that illusory pattern perception is a central cognitive mechanism accounting for conspiracy theories and supernatural beliefs.
  • Schumann, S., Klein, O., Douglas, K., & Hewstone, M. (2017). When is computer-mediated intergroup contact most promising? Examining the effect of out-group members’ anonymity on prejudice. Computers in Human Behavior, 77, 198-210. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2017.08.006
    Computer-mediated intergroup contact (CMIC) is a valuable strategy to reduce negative sentiments towards members of different social groups. We examined whether characteristics of communication media that facilitate intergroup encounters shape its effect on out-group attitudes. Specifically, we propose that concealing individuating cues about out-group members during CMIC increases prejudice, as interaction partners are perceived as less socially present. To assess these hypotheses, we conducted two mixed-factorial experiments. Participants engaged in synchronous intergroup contact via text-chat with out-group members (Study 1) and a confederate (Study 2) who either shared or concealed their name and photo. Overall, CMIC reduced negative out-group sentiments. Study 2 showed, however, that out-group members' anonymity decreased perceived social presence, which was associated with less positive evaluations of the CMIC and higher prejudice. In conclusion, CMIC can contribute to conflict resolution interventions, preparing individuals for direct intergroup contact, if its affordances or conversation topics enhance interaction partners' social presence.
  • Lantian, A., Muller, D., Nurra, C., & Douglas, K. (2017). “I know things they don’t know!” The role of need for uniqueness in belief in conspiracy theories. Social Psychology, 48, 160-173. doi:10.1027/1864-9335/a000306
    In the current research, we investigated whether belief in conspiracy theories satisfies people’s need for uniqueness. We found that the tendency to believe in conspiracy theories was associated with the feeling of possessing scarce information about the situations explained by the conspiracy theories (Study 1) and higher need for uniqueness (Study 2). A further two studies using two different manipulations of need for uniqueness (Studies 3 and 4), showed that people in a high need for uniqueness condition displayed higher conspiracy belief than people in a low need for uniqueness condition. This conclusion is strengthened by a small-scale meta-analysis. These studies suggest that conspiracy theories may serve people’s desire to be unique, highlighting a motivational underpinning of conspiracy belief.
  • van Prooijen, J., & Douglas, K. (2017). Conspiracy theories as part of history: The role of societal crisis situations. Memory Studies, 10, 323-333. doi:10.1177/1750698017701615
    In the present contribution we examine the link between societal crisis situations and belief in conspiracy theories. Contrary to common assumptions, belief in conspiracy theories has been prevalent throughout human history. We first illustrate historical incidents suggesting that societal crisis situations—defined as impactful and rapid societal change that calls established power structures, norms of conduct, or even the existence of specific people or groups, into question —have stimulated belief in conspiracy theories. We then review the psychological literature to explain why this is the case. Evidence suggests that the aversive feelings that people experience when in crisis—fear, uncertainty, the feeling of being out of control—stimulate a motivation to make sense of the situation, increasing the likelihood of perceiving conspiracies in social situations. We then explain that after being formed, conspiracy theories can become historical narratives that may spread through cultural transmission. We conclude that conspiracy theories originate particularly in crisis situations, and may form the basis for how people subsequently remember and mentally represent a historical event.
  • Jolley, D., & Douglas, K. (2017). Prevention is better than cure: Addressing anti-vaccine conspiracy theories. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 47, 459-469. doi:10.1111/jasp.12453
    The current research tested if explicit anti-conspiracy arguments could be an effective method of addressing the potentially harmful effects of anti-vaccine conspiracy theories. In two studies, participants were presented with anti-conspiracy arguments either before, or after reading arguments in favor of popular conspiracy theories concerning vaccination. In both studies, anti-conspiracy arguments increased intentions to vaccinate a fictional child but only when presented prior to conspiracy theories. This effect was mediated by belief in anti-vaccine conspiracy theories and the perception that vaccines are dangerous. These findings suggest that people can be inoculated against the potentially harmful effects of anti-vaccine conspiracy theories, but that once they are established, the conspiracy theories may be difficult to correct.
  • Douglas, K., Ang, C., & Deravi, F. (2017). Reclaiming the truth. The Psychologist, 30, 36-42. Retrieved from https://thepsychologist.bps.org.uk/volume-30/june-2017/reclaiming-truth
  • Douglas, K. (2017). You just can’t trust ‘em: Conspiracy theories erode people’s faith in politicians and democracy itself. International Politics and Society.
  • Skipper, Y., & Douglas, K. (2016). The impact of a selective entry examination on children’s feelings as they approach the transition to secondary school. British Educational Research Journal, 42, 945-961. doi:10.1002/berj.3242
    In the current study we examined how different experiences of a secondary school selective entry examination influenced children’s feelings about themselves, school, and intelligence as they approached transition. Children were recruited from three English schools that use a selective entry examination to stream students into secondary schools based on ability (98 children aged around 10) and were assessed at two time points. At Time 1 children had recently decided whether to take the exam, and at Time 2 children had received their exam results. At each time children completed measures of theory of intelligence, locus of control, self-esteem, and feelings about the school system. At Time 1, children who intended to take the exam showed more positive outcomes than those who did not. However, they were also more likely to hold a fixed view of intelligence, which has been associated with longer-term negative outcomes. Similarly at Time 2 children who had passed the exam showed more positive outcomes than those who had failed or had not taken the exam, but again they were more likely to hold a potentially maladaptive fixed view of intelligence. Those who failed the exam were indistinguishable from those who had not taken the exam. These results suggest that passing the selective exam can lead to positive outcomes for children, except in terms of their view of intelligence. However, failing and not being given the opportunity to sit the exam leads to consistently negative outcomes. The potential implications of these results are discussed.
  • Douglas, K., & Leite, A. (2016). Suspicion in the workplace: Organizational conspiracy theories and work-related outcomes. British Journal of Psychology, 108, 486-506. doi:10.1111/bjop.12212
    Belief in conspiracy theories about societal events is widespread and has important consequences for political, health and environmental behaviour. Little is known, however, about how conspiracy theorising affects people’s everyday working lives. In the present research, we predicted that belief in conspiracy theories about the workplace would be associated with increased turnover intentions. We further hypothesised that belief in these organizational conspiracy theories would predict decreased organizational commitment, and job satisfaction. Finally, we hypothesised that these factors would mediate the relationship between organizational conspiracy theories and turnover intentions. In three studies (one correlational and two experiments, Ns = 209, 119, 202), we found support for these hypotheses. The current studies therefore demonstrate the potentially adverse consequences of conspiracy theorising for the workplace. We argue that managers and employees should be careful not to dismiss conspiracy theorising as harmless rumour or gossip.
  • Chotpitayasunondh, V., & Douglas, K. (2016). How “phubbing” becomes the norm: The antecedents and consequences of snubbing via smartphone. Computers in Human Behavior, 63, 9-18. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2016.05.018
    Smartphones allow people to connect with others from almost anywhere at any time. However, there is growing concern that smartphones may actually sometimes detract, rather than complement, social interactions. The term “phubbing” represents the act of snubbing someone in a social setting by concentrating on one’s phone instead of talking to the person directly. The current study was designed to examine some of the psychological antecedents and consequences of phubbing behavior. We examined the contributing roles of Internet addiction, fear of missing out, self-control, and smartphone addiction, and how the frequency of phubbing behavior and of being phubbed may both lead to the perception that phubbing is normative. The results revealed that Internet addiction, fear of missing out, and self-control predicted smartphone addiction, which in turn predicted the extent to which people phub. This path also predicted the extent to which people feel that phubbing is normative, both via (a) the extent to which people are phubbed themselves, and (b) independently. Further, gender moderated the relationship between the extent to which people are phubbed and their perception that phubbing is normative. The present findings suggest that phubbing is an important factor in modern communication that warrants further investigation.
  • Lantian, A., Muller, D., Nurra, C., & Douglas, K. (2016). Measuring belief in conspiracy theories: Validation of a French and English single-item scale. International Review of Social Psychology, 29, 1-14. doi:10.5334/irsp.8
    We designed, in French and in English, a single-item scale to measure people’s general tendency to believe in conspiracy theories. The validity and reliability of this scale was assessed in 3 studies (total N = 555). In Study 1 (N = 152), positive correlations between the single-item scale and 3 other conspiracy belief scales on a French student sample suggested good concurrent validity. In Study 2 (N = 292), we replicated these results on a larger and more heterogeneous Internet American sample. Moreover, the scale showed good predictive validity—responses predicted participants’ willingness to receive a bi-monthly newsletter about alleged conspiracy theories. Finally, in Study 3 (N = 111), we observed good test-retest reliability and demonstrated both convergent and discriminant validity of the single-item scale. Overall these results suggest that the single-item conspiracy belief scale has good validity and reliability and may be used to measure conspiracy belief in favor of lengthier existing scales. In addition, the validation of the single-item scale led us to develop and start validating French versions of the Generic Conspiracist Beliefs scale, the Conspiracy Mentality Questionnaire, and a 10-item version (instead of the 15-item original version) of the Belief in Conspiracy Theories Inventory.
  • Douglas, K., Sutton, R., Callan, M., Dawtry, R., & Harvey, A. (2016). Someone is pulling the strings: Hypersensitive agency detection and belief in conspiracy theories. Thinking and Reasoning, 22, 57-77. doi:10.1080/13546783.2015.1051586
    We hypothesized that belief in conspiracy theories would be predicted by the general tendency to attribute agency and intentionality where it is unlikely to exist. We further hypothesized that this tendency would explain the relationship between education level and belief in conspiracy theories, where lower levels of education have been found to be associated with higher conspiracy belief. In Study 1 (N=202) participants were more likely to agree with a range of conspiracy theories if they also tended to attribute intentionality and agency to inanimate objects. As predicted, this relationship accounted for the link between education level and belief in conspiracy theories. We replicated this finding in Study 2 (N=330), whilst taking into account beliefs in paranormal phenomena. These results suggest that education may undermine the reasoning processes and assumptions that are reflected in conspiracy belief.
  • Wood, M., & Douglas, K. (2015). Online communication as a window to conspiracist worldviews. Frontiers in Psychology, 6, 836. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00836
    In spite of the social stigma surrounding them, conspiracy theories are a common topic of public debate on the Internet. The content and tone of these discussions provide a useful insight into the structure of conspiracist belief systems and the psychological characteristics of those who believe and disbelieve in conspiracy theories. In this focused review, we relate patterns of behaviour found in online comments to the broader research literature on the psychology of conspiracy theories. Most notably, as conspiracism has its basis in disbelieving a mainstream or received narrative rather than in believing a specific alternative, most conspiracist arguments tend to fall along those same lines. Finally, we examine the implications of this methodology for future research into online discussion, particularly among hard-to-research populations.
  • Skipper, Y., & Douglas, K. (2015). The influence of teacher feedback on children’s perceptions of student–teacher relationships. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 85, 276-288. doi:10.1111/bjep.12070
    Teachers can deliver feedback using person (‘you are clever’) or process terms (‘you worked hard’). Person feedback can lead to negative academic outcomes, but there is little experimental research examining the impact of feedback on children's perceptions of the student–teacher relationship.

    We examined the effects of person, process, and no feedback on children's perceptions of their relationship with a (fictional) teacher following success and failure.

    Participants were British children (145 aged 9–11 in experiment 1 and 98 aged 7–11 in experiment 2).

    In experiment 1, participants read three scenarios where they succeeded and received one of two types of praise (person or process) or no praise. Participants then read two scenarios where they failed. In experiment 2, participants read that they had failed in three tasks and received one of two types of criticism (person or process) or no criticism. Participants then read two scenarios where they succeeded. They rated how much they liked the teacher and how much they felt that the teacher liked them.

    Children felt more positive about the student–teacher relationship following success than failure. Type of praise did not influence perceptions of the student–teacher relationship following success or failure. However, person criticism led children to view the student–teacher relationship more negatively following failure and maintain this negative view following the first success.

    Success appears to be important for developing positive student–teacher relationships. In response to failure, teachers could avoid person criticism which may negatively influence the student–teacher relationship.
  • Douglas, K., & Sutton, R. (2015). Climate change: Why the conspiracy theories are dangerous. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 71, 98-106. doi:10.1177/0096340215571908
    Uncertainty surrounds the public understanding of climate change and provides fertile ground for conspiracy theories. Typically, such conspiracy theories assert that climate scientists and politicians are distorting or hijacking the science to suit their own purposes. Climate change conspiracy theories resemble other conspiracy theories in some respects, but in others they appear to be quite different. For example, climate change conspiracy theories appear to be motivated by the desire to deny or minimize an unwelcome and threatening conclusion. They also appear to be more contentious than other types of conspiracy theories. Perhaps to an unparalleled extent, people on both sides of the issue champion climate change conspiracy theories. Finally, more than other conspiracy theories, those concerning climate change appear to be more politically loaded, dividing opinion across the left-right continuum. Some empirical evidence suggests that climate change conspiracy theories may be harmful, steering people away from environmentally friendly initiatives. They therefore present a significant challenge for governments and environmental organizations that are attempting to convince people to take action against global warming.
  • Jolley, D., & Douglas, K. (2014). The effects of anti-vaccine conspiracy theories on vaccination intentions. PLoS ONE, 9, e89177. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0089177
    The current studies investigated the potential impact of anti-vaccine conspiracy beliefs, and exposure to anti-vaccine conspiracy theories, on vaccination intentions. In Study 1, British parents completed a questionnaire measuring beliefs in anti-vaccine conspiracy theories and the likelihood that they would have a fictitious child vaccinated. Results revealed a significant negative relationship between anti-vaccine conspiracy beliefs and vaccination intentions. This effect was mediated by the perceived dangers of vaccines, and feelings of powerlessness, disillusionment and mistrust in authorities. In Study 2, participants were exposed to information that either supported or refuted anti-vaccine conspiracy theories, or a control condition. Results revealed that participants who had been exposed to material supporting anti-vaccine conspiracy theories showed less intention to vaccinate than those in the anti-conspiracy condition or controls. This effect was mediated by the same variables as in Study 1. These findings point to the potentially detrimental consequences of anti-vaccine conspiracy theories, and highlight their potential role in shaping health-related behaviors.
    This is an open access article and a copy can be obtained from the URL: http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0089177
  • Jolley, D., & Douglas, K. (2014). The social consequences of conspiracism: Exposure to conspiracy theories decreases the intention to engage in politics and to reduce one’s carbon footprint. British Journal of Psychology, 105, 35-56. doi:10.1111/bjop.12018
    The current studies explored the social consequences of exposure to conspiracy theories. In Study 1, participants were exposed to a range of conspiracy theories concerning government involvement in significant events such as the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. Results revealed that exposure to information supporting conspiracy theories reduced participants' intentions to engage in politics, relative to participants who were given information refuting conspiracy theories. This effect was mediated by feelings of political powerlessness. In Study 2, participants were exposed to conspiracy theories concerning the issue of climate change. Results revealed that exposure to information supporting the conspiracy theories reduced participants' intentions to reduce their carbon footprint, relative to participants who were given refuting information, or those in a control condition. This effect was mediated by powerlessness with respect to climate change, uncertainty, and disillusionment. Exposure to climate change conspiracy theories also influenced political intentions, an effect mediated by political powerlessness. The current findings suggest that conspiracy theories may have potentially significant social consequences, and highlight the need for further research on the social psychology of conspiracism.
  • Douglas, K., & Sutton, R. (2014). “A Giant Leap for Mankind”, but What About Women? The Role of System-Justifying Ideologies in Predicting Attitudes Toward Sexist Language. Journal of Language and Social Psychology. doi:10.1177/0261927X14538638
    Sexist language excludes, trivializes or diminishes either gender. Despite efforts by many
    professional bodies to encourage the use of nonsexist alternatives, sexist language use
    persists across many languages. Further, research has shown that men are less supportive of
    nonsexist language alternatives than women, and that this effect is mediated by attitudes
    toward women. We propose that broader ideologies related to the perceived legitimacy of
    dominance hierarchies and existing social systems also explain this gender gap. British
    undergraduate participants completed measures of attitudes toward women, gender-specific
    system justification, and social dominance orientation. They also completed an inventory of
    attitudes toward sexist language. There was a strong gender difference in attitudes toward
    sexist language that was significantly mediated by gender-specific system justification and
    social dominance orientation. The relationship between gender and attitudes toward sexist
    language therefore appears to be driven by broader ideologies that serve to keep women “in
    their place”.
  • Wood, M., & Douglas, K. (2013). “What about building 7?” A social psychological study of online discussion of 9/11 conspiracy theories. Frontiers in Psychology, 4, 409. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00409
    Recent research into the psychology of conspiracy belief has highlighted the importance of belief systems in the acceptance or rejection of conspiracy theories. We examined a large sample of conspiracist (pro-conspiracy-theory) and conventionalist (anti-conspiracy-theory) comments on news websites in order to investigate the relative importance of promoting alternative explanations vs. rejecting conventional explanations for events. In accordance with our hypotheses, we found that conspiracist commenters were more likely to argue against the opposing interpretation and less likely to argue in favor of their own interpretation, while the opposite was true of conventionalist commenters. However, conspiracist comments were more likely to explicitly put forward an account than conventionalist comments were. In addition, conspiracists were more likely to express mistrust and made more positive and fewer negative references to other conspiracy theories. The data also indicate that conspiracists were largely unwilling to apply the “conspiracy theory” label to their own beliefs and objected when others did so, lending support to the long-held suggestion that conspiracy belief carries a social stigma. Finally, conventionalist arguments tended to have a more hostile tone. These tendencies in persuasive communication can be understood as a reflection of an underlying conspiracist worldview in which the details of individual conspiracy theories are less important than a generalized rejection of official explanations.

    This is an open access article and a copy can be obtained from the URL: http://www.frontiersin.org/Personality_Science_and_Individual_Differences/10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00409/abstract
  • Bertolotti, M., Catellani, P., Douglas, K., & Sutton, R. (2013). The “big two” in political communication: The effects of attacking and defending politicians’ leadership and morality in two European countries. Special issue: The Big Two in Social Judgement. Social Psychology, 44, 117-128.
    In two experimental studies (conducted in Britain and Italy), participants read about a politician answering to leadership- versus morality-related allegations using either downward counterfactuals (“things could have been worse, if…”) or upward counterfactuals (“things could have been better, if…”). Downward messages increased the perception of the politician’s leadership, while both downward and upward messages increased morality perception. Political sophistication moderated the effect of message direction, with downward messages increasing perceived morality in low sophisticates and upward messages increasing perceived morality in high sophisticates. In the latter group, the acknowledgement of a responsibility-taking intent mediated morality judgment. Results were consistent across different countries, highlighting previously unexplored effects of communication on the perception of the “Big Two” dimensions.
  • Skipper, Y., & Douglas, K. (2012). Is no praise good praise? Effects of positive feedback on children’s and university students’ responses to subsequent failures. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 82, 327-339. doi:10.1111/j.2044-8279.2011.02028.x
    According to Dweck and colleagues (e.g., Kamins & Dweck, 1999; Mueller & Dweck, 1986), praise can be delivered using person (“you are clever”) or process terms (“you worked hard”). Research suggests that giving people process praise after success can help them deal better with subsequent failures because it attributes outcomes to effort rather than fixed ability. However, research has thus far inadequately addressed how these types of praise compare to receiving no evaluative feedback.
    The aim of the present research was to examine the effects of person and process praise compared to a control group where only objective outcome feedback was given.
    In Study 1, 145 British school children aged 9-11 years took part. In Study 2, participants were 114 British university students.
    In both studies, participants read three scenarios and were asked to imagine themselves as the main character. In each scenario, they succeeded in an educational task and received either person, process or no praise. Participants then read two scenarios where they failed at a task. Following each scenario participants evaluated their performance, affect and persistence.
    After one failure, participants who received person praise reacted most negatively on all dependent measures. However, those in the process condition did not differ significantly from those in the control group.
    These findings suggest that process feedback may not be inherently positive; instead person feedback seems particularly detrimental.


  • Sutton, R., & Douglas, K. (2013). Social Psychology. Palgrave MacMillan.

Book section

  • Douglas, K., Cichocka, A., & Sutton, R. (2020). Motivations, Emotions and Belief in Conspiracy Theories. In M. Butter & P. Knight (Eds.), Routledge Handbook of Conspiracy Theories. Routledge. doi:10.4324/9780429452734
  • van Prooijen, J., Douglas, K., Cichocka, A., & Bilewicz, M. (2020). Introduction Section 2: Psychological factors. In M. Butter & P. Knight (Eds.), Routledge Handbook of Conspiracy Theories. Routledge. doi:10.4324/9780429452734
  • Wood, M., & Douglas, K. (2019). Are Conspiracy Theories a Surrogate for God?. In A. Dyrendal, D. Robertson, & E. Asprem (Eds.), Handbook of Conspiracy Theory and Contemporary Religion. Brill. doi:10.1163/9789004382022
    The decline of traditional religion in the West has been matched by a rise in the visibility of conspiracy theories. Are conspiracy theories therefore a replacement for religious belief in an increasingly secular society? Conspiracy theories seem to fulfil some of the psychological needs addressed by religion, such as imposing a sense of order and agency upon the world, and the two seem to share some of the same psychological predispositions. Many conspiracy beliefs have parallels in content and structure to religious beliefs: some propose an Edenic existence that was corrupted by a conspiracy, while others anticipate an apocalypse that will be either brought about or welcomed by a conspiracy. In this chapter, we take a psychological perspective on the parallels between religion and conspiracy theory, and discussing how the two types of belief systems complement and contradict one another.
  • Douglas, K., Sutton, R., & Cichocka, A. (2019). Belief in conspiracy theories: Looking beyond gullibility. In J. Forgas & R. Baumeister (Eds.), The Social Psychology of Gullibility: Conspiracy Theories, Fake News and Irrational Beliefs. Routledge. Retrieved from https://www.routledge.com/The-Social-Psychology-of-Gullibility-Conspiracy-Theories-Fake-News-and/Forgas-Baumeister/p/book/9780367187934
    In this chapter, we consider the factors that attract people toward conspiracy theories and also consider whether or not belief in conspiracy theories is a sign of gullibility. We first review the framework of Douglas, Sutton, and Cichocka (2017), which explains that belief in conspiracy theories is driven by epistemic, existential, and social motives. In reviewing the literature on the psychology of conspiracy belief, we conclude that people who believe in conspiracy theories will not simply believe anything they hear. Instead, people appear to believe conspiracy theories that appeal to these three important psychological motives. Conspiracy believers can therefore not be dismissed as gullible and researchers should not characterize them as such. In the remainder of the chapter, we highlight some of the social consequences of conspiracy theories. To date, research reveals that while conspiracy theories may seem attractive to people when they are seeking to satisfy their psychological motives, unfortunately they may sometimes do more harm than good.
  • Wood, M., & Douglas, K. (2018). Conspiracy Theory Psychology: Individual Differences, Worldviews, and States of Mind. In J. E. Uscinski (Ed.), Conspiracy Theories and the People Who Believe Them (pp. 245-256). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/oso/9780190844073.003.0016
    Conspiracy theories tend to be taken more seriously by people who are mistrustful and prone to certain forms of magical thinking, have a worldview that generally fits with conspiratorial interpretations of events, feel alienated from society and its norms, and frequently come into contact with other topics outside of the mainstream such as alternative medicine. Conspiracy theories are less plausible when the audience has a positive attitude toward the group implicated as the conspirators, when they are engaged in analytical, detail-focused thinking, and when they feel like they are generally in control of their own fate.
  • Uscinski, J., Douglas, K., & Lewandowsky, S. (2017). Climate change conspiracy theories. In Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Climate Science. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/acrefore/9780190228620.013.328
    (OPEN ACCESS ON ENCYCLOPEDIA WEBPAGE: http://climatescience.oxfordre.com/view/10.1093/acrefore/9780190228620.001.0001/acrefore-9780190228620-e-328)
    An overwhelming percentage of climate scientists agree that human activity is causing the global climate to change in ways that will have deleterious consequences both for the environment and for humankind. While scientists have alerted both the public and policy makers to the dangers of continuing or increasing the current rate of carbon emission, policy proposals intended to curb carbon emission and thereby mitigate climate change have been resisted by a notable segment of the public. Some of this resistance comes from those not wanting to incur costs or change energy sources (i.e., the carbon-based energy industry). Others oppose policies intended to address climate change for ideological reasons (i.e., they are opposed to the collectivist nature of the solutions usually proposed). But perhaps the most alarming and visible are those who oppose solutions to climate change because they believe, or at least claim to believe, that anthropogenic climate change is not really happening and that climate scientists are lying and their data is fake.

    Resistance, in this latter case, sometimes referred to as climate “skepticism” or “denialism,” varies from region to region in strength but worldwide has been a prominent part of a political force strong enough to preclude both domestic and global policy makers from making binding efforts to avert the further effects of anthropogenic climate change. For example, a 2013 poll in the United States showed that almost 40% believed that climate change was a hoax.

    Climate skeptics suggest the well-publicized consensus is either manufactured or illusory and that some nefarious force—be it the United Nations, liberals, communists, or authoritarians—want to use climate change as a cover for exerting massive new controls over the populace. This conspiracy-laden rhetoric—if followed to its logical conclusion—expresses a rejection of scientific methods, scientists, and the role that science plays in society.

    Skeptic rhetoric, on one hand, may suggest that climate skepticism is psychological and the product of underlying conspiratorial thinking, rather than cognitive and the product of a careful weighing of scientific evidence. On the other hand, it may be that skeptics do not harbor underlying conspiratorial thinking, but rather express their opposition to policy solutions in conspiratorial terms because that is the only available strategy when arguing against an accepted scientific consensus. This tactic of calling into question the integrity of science has been used in other scientific debates (i.e., the link between cigarette smoking and cancer).

    Opinion surveys, however, support the view that climate change denialism is driven at least partially by underlying conspiratorial thinking. Belief in climate change conspiracy theories also appear to drive behaviors in ways consistent with the behaviors of people who think in conspiratorial terms: Climate change conspiracy theorists are less likely to participate politically or take actions that could alleviate their carbon footprint. Furthermore, some climate skeptics reject studies showing that their skepticism is partially a product of conspiratorial thinking: They believe such studies are themselves part of the conspiracy.
  • Douglas, K., Sutton, R., Jolley, D., & Wood, M. (2015). The social, political, environmental and health-related consequences of conspiracy theories: Problems and potential solutions. In M. Bilewicz, A. Cichocka, & W. Soral (Eds.), The psychology of conspiracy. Taylor and Francis.
  • Sutton, R., & Douglas, K. (2014). Examining the monological nature of conspiracy theories. In J. W. van Prooijen & P. A. M. van Lange (Eds.), Power, politics, and paranoia: Why people are suspicious of their leaders. Cambridge University Press.
    (Summary prepared for this repository). This chapter critically examines the often made claim that endorsement of conspiracy theories is characteristic of a "monological" world view (Goertzel, 1994) - in which claims about the causes of an event are not weighed against specific evidence about the event itself so much as abstract, mutually supportive beliefs about the pattern of previous events. Although beliefs in various conspiracy theories are robustly correlated, so that people who believe in one conspiracy theory are likely to believe in several others, this does not in itself demonstrate that conspiracy beliefs are rooted in, or symptomatic of, a monological worldview. There is little evidence to suggest the mindsets of adherents of conspiracy theories are generally more monological - in fact, some research suggests that 'conspiracy theorists' are more open, rather than more closed, to new ideas. Further, some conspiracy theories contradict, rather than reinforce, other conspiracy theories, suggesting that they do not comprise a closed ecosystem of mutually supportive ideas. The authors outline other accounts of why beliefs in various conspiracy theories tend to cluster together. For example, these beliefs are associated with similar personality variables, beliefs about the self, and beliefs about the world. Also explaining their correlation, they may be best viewed not as separate psychological variables but as facets of an underlying variable. The authors conclude that further research is needed to test some of the interesting predictions that may be derived from the monological worldview position. In the meantime, to portray conspiracy belief as a symptom of a monological world view is not yet warranted empirically, and may be unfairly derogatory.
  • Sutton, R., Hornsey, M., & Douglas, K. (2012). Feedback: Defining and surveying the field. In R. M. Sutton, M. J. Hornsey, & K. Douglas (Eds.), Feedback: The communication of praise, criticism and advice (Vol. 11). Peter Lang Publishers. Retrieved from http://www.peterlang.cn/index.cfm?event=cmp.ccc.seitenstruktur.detailseiten&seitentyp=produkt&pk=67761&concordeid=310512
  • Sutton, R., Hornsey, M., & Douglas, K. (2012). Feedback for theory, research and practice. In R. M. Sutton, M. J. Hornsey, & K. Douglas (Eds.), Feedback: The communication of praise, criticism and advice (Vol. 11). Peter Lang Publishers. Retrieved from http://www.peterlang.cn/index.cfm?event=cmp.ccc.seitenstruktur.detailseiten&seitentyp=produkt&pk=67761&concordeid=310512


  • Douglas, K. (2019). Hypersensitive agency detection. In V. Zeigler-Hill & T. K. Shackelford (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences. Springer.
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