School of Psychology

World-leading research and teaching

Professor Karen Douglas

Professor of Social Psychology
Director of Graduate Studies (Taught)
Athena Swan Lead



Karen Douglas



Research interests

My primary 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?  I am also interested in the social psychology of human communication, including the influence of technology on social interaction, and the psychology of sexist language.

Recent 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. (

  • 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. (

  • 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. Its 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 it every three months. If you have any updates that you would like to include, or if you notice that any sources are missing, please complete this form. We hope that you find this resource useful.



School of Psychology - Keynes College, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent CT2 7NP

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Last Updated: 13/06/2019