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Scientific article
Open access
English

‘Where there are villains, there will be heroes’: Belief in conspiracy theories as an existential tool to fulfill need for meaning

Published inPersonality and individual differences, vol. 200, 111900
First online date2022-09-14
Abstract

What leads people to believe in conspiracy theories? In this paper, we explore the possibility that people might be drawn towards conspiracy theories because believing in them might satisfy certain existential needs and help people find meaning in their life. Through two studies (N = 289 and 287 after exclusion), we found that par- ticipants higher in the need and search for meaning were more likely to believe in conspiracy theories. This relationship was not moderated by participants' feelings of control. We also found that believing in conspiracy theories was associated with more presence of meaning (Study 1), and more precisely with a heightened feeling of mattering in the grand scheme of things (Study 2). Additionally, we found that participants were more likely to endorse conspiracy theories that left them more agency and allowed them the possibility to make a difference. Overall, we argue that our results suggest that people might sometimes be drawn towards conspiracy theories because they allow them to feel as if they can make a difference and have a positive impact on the world, and thus that conspiracy theories can be used as tools to satisfy existential needs.

eng
Keywords
  • Conspiracy theories
  • Meaning in life
  • Control
  • Mattering
  • Agency
Research group
Citation (ISO format)
SCHÖPFER, Céline et al. ‘Where there are villains, there will be heroes’: Belief in conspiracy theories as an existential tool to fulfill need for meaning. In: Personality and individual differences, 2022, vol. 200, p. 111900. doi: 10.1016/j.paid.2022.111900
Main files (1)
Article (Accepted version)
Identifiers
ISSN of the journal0191-8869
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