Thursday, June 8, 2017

Need for uniqueness motivates conspiracy beliefs

Imhoff, R., and Lamberty, P. K. (2017) Too special to be duped: Need for uniqueness motivates conspiracy beliefs. Eur. J. Soc. Psychol., doi: 10.1002/ejsp.2265

Abstract: Adding to the growing literature on the antecedents of conspiracy beliefs, this paper argues that a small part in motivating the endorsement of such seemingly irrational beliefs is the desire to stick out from the crowd, the need for uniqueness. Across three studies, we establish a modest but robust association between the self-attributed need for uniqueness and a general conspirational mindset (conspiracy mentality) as well as the endorsement of specific conspiracy beliefs. Following up on previous findings that people high in need for uniqueness resist majority and yield to minority influence, Study 3 experimentally shows that a fictitious conspiracy theory received more support by people high in conspiracy mentality when this theory was said to be supported by only a minority (vs. majority) of survey respondents. Together, these findings support the notion that conspiracy beliefs can be adopted as a means to attain a sense of uniqueness.

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