Thought patterns in conspiracy theories

Every now and then we get confronted with an event that seems to be unexplainable, in those particular times we, humans need to make a choice. Do we believe that some sinister, metaphysical or inexplicable force is practicing wicked arts or do we wait for science to give us a rational and logical explanation ? This question can be very controversial, especially in times of a global pandemic where it almost seems like the world is dividing. Fortunately, we know that it’s not ,at least by looking at the statistics we can see that almost 60% of the world population have had the first dose of their vaccine, considering that there is still a large inequality regarding access to the vaccination, we can hypothesize that there might be a higher rate of vaccinations if everyone had the same access to the serum and pharmaceutical products in general. All this to say that even though the majority is very clear on not wanting to spread, get or allow the virus to mutate more easily, there is still a large group that doesn’t want to believe in science and rather trusts in alternative theories, also called conspiracy theories. The aim of this article is not to debate whether or not it makes sense to believe in alternative facts but rather to explore if there might be some underlying factors that foster thought patterns that lead to such theories.

Some studies have hypothesized that there might be specific traits that foster belief in conspiracy theories. Manipulation, social dominance and exploitation are traits that have been linked to conspiracy theories, those traits also form some of the most important characteristics of primary psychopathy. The findings of such studies point towards a correlation between a dominant and manipulative personality (including the different traits of primary psychopathy) and conspiracy theories. Another trait that is often linked to the “dark triad“ and simultaneously highly correlates with belief in conspiracy theories is machiavellianism, a trait that has very similar characteristics to psychopathy.(March et al., 2019) 

Many findings strongly suggest that all the major traits of primary psychopathy (and some others) increase the probability of believing, manifesting or creating conspiracy theories. These studies are quite new and mostly point towards future researches to fill the void with more specific data. Nevertheless, the fact that underlying factors such as personality traits might lead to a strong belief in conspiracy theories is revealing and could be of high impact and importance as strongly debated issues lead more and more often to the dissemination of conspiracy theories.

It will be highly interesting to see how those studies change our view on the issue and if there might be some changes in the way authorities and governments handle the phenomenon.


        March, Evita; Springer, Jordan; Jonason, Peter Karl  (2019). Belief in conspiracy theories: The predictive role of schizotypy, Machiavellianism, and primary psychopathy. PLOS ONE, 14(12), e0225964–.         doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0225964     

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