Nav: Home

Belief in conspiracy theories makes people more likely to engage in low-level crime

February 25, 2019

People who believe in conspiracy theories - such as the theory that Princess Diana was murdered by the British establishment - are more likely to accept or engage in everyday criminal activity.

That's the main finding from new research by psychologists at the universities of Kent and Staffordshire into the wider impact that conspiracy beliefs can have on behaviour.

Professor Karen Douglas, of Kent's School of Psychology, was one of a team of four researchers to show that belief in conspiracy theories, previously associated with prejudice, political disengagement and environmental inaction, also makes people more inclined to actively engage in antisocial behaviour.

In a first study, the findings indicated that people who believed in conspiracy theories were more accepting of everyday crime, such as trying to claim for replacement items, refunds or compensation from a shop when they were not entitled to do so.

In a second study, exposure to conspiracy theories made people more likely to intend to engage in everyday crime in the future. The researchers found that this tendency was directly linked to an individual's feeling of a lack of social cohesion or shared values, known as 'anomie'.

Professor Douglas said: 'Our research has shown for the first time the role that conspiracy theories can play in determining an individual's attitude to everyday crime. It demonstrates that people subscribing to the view that others have conspired might be more inclined toward unethical actions.'

Dr Dan Jolley, of Staffordshire University, said: 'People believing in conspiracy theories are more likely to be accepting of everyday crime, while exposure to theories increases a feeling of anomie, which in turn predicts increased future everyday crime intentions.'
-end-
The research, entitled Belief in conspiracy theories and intentions to engage in everyday crime (Daniel Jolley and Tanya Schrader, Staffordshire University; Karen Douglas and Ana Leite, University of Kent) is published in the British Journal of Social Psychology. See: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/bjso.12311

For more information or interview and picture requests contact Martin Herrema at the University of Kent Press Office.

Tel: 01227 816768

Email: M.J.Herrema@kent.ac.uk

News releases can also be found at http://www.kent.ac.uk/news

University of Kent on Twitter: http://twitter.com/UniKent

Notes to editors


Established in 1965, the University of Kent - the UK's European university - now has almost 20,000 students across campuses or study centres at Canterbury, Medway, Tonbridge, Brussels, Paris, Athens and Rome.

It has been ranked 22nd in the Guardian University Guide 2018 and 25th in the Complete University Guide 2018, and in June 2017 was awarded a gold rating, the highest, in the UK Government's Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF).In the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2015-16, it is in the top 10% of the world's leading universities for international outlook and 66th in its table of the most international universities in the world. The THE also ranked the University as 20th in its 'Table of Tables' 2016.

Kent is ranked 17th in the UK for research intensity (REF 2014). It has world-leading research in all subjects and 97% of its research is deemed by the REF to be of international quality.

In the National Student Survey 2016, Kent achieved the fourth highest score for overall student satisfaction, out of all publicly funded, multi-faculty universities. Along with the universities of East Anglia and Essex, Kent is a member of the Eastern Arc Research Consortium (http://www.kent.ac.uk/about/partnerships/eastern-arc.html).

The University is worth £0.7 billion to the economy of the south east and supports more than 7,800 jobs in the region. Student off-campus spend contributes £293.3m and 2,532 full-time-equivalent jobs to those totals.

Kent has received two Queen's Anniversary prizes for Higher and Further Education.

University of Kent

Related Conspiracy Theories Articles:

Research proposes new theories about nature of Earth's iron
New research challenges the prevailing theory that the unique nature of Earth's iron was the result of how its core was formed billions of years ago.
Social exclusion leads to conspiratorial thinking, study finds
According to a Princeton University study, social exclusion leads to conspiratorial thinking.
Emotions are cognitive, not innate, researchers conclude
Emotions are not innately programmed into our brains, but, in fact, are cognitive states resulting from the gathering of information, New York University Professor Joseph LeDoux and Richard Brown, a professor at the City University of New York, conclude.
How race consciousness influences your likelihood of getting a flu shot
A study led by Professor Sandra Crouse Quinn in the University of Maryland School of Public Health is the first to explore racial factors and how they may influence attitudes and behaviors towards the flu vaccine.
More are positive about HPV vaccine on Twitter than not, Drexel study finds
A Drexel University study into sentiments toward the HPV vaccine on Twitter found that significantly more tweets post positive sentiments toward vaccines, such as the value of prevention and protection, than not.
A fundamental theory of mass generation
A team of four theoretical physicists, Francesco Sannino from Cp3-Origins at the University of Southern Denmark, Alessandro Strumia from CERN theory division and Pisa Univ., Andrea Tesi from the Enrico Fermi Institute at the University of Chicago in US, and Elena Vigiani from Pisa University have recently published in the Journal of High Energy Physics their work
How water flows near the superhydrophobic surface
The international scientific team, led by Olga Vinogradova (Professor at the Faculty of Physics, the Lomonosov Moscow State University and the chief of laboratory at Institute of Physical chemistry and Electrochemistry, Russian Academy of Sciences) has managed to characterize theoretically the behavior of water in close vicinity to a superhydrophobic surface.
What do Americans fear? Chapman University's 3rd Annual Survey of American Fears released
Chapman University recently completed its third annual Chapman University Survey of American Fears (2016).
Surveyed scientists debunk chemtrails conspiracy theory
The world's leading atmospheric scientists overwhelmingly deny the existence of a secret, elite-driven plot to release harmful chemicals into the air from high-flying aircraft, according to the first peer-reviewed journal paper to address the 'chemtrails' conspiracy theory.
'Chemtrails' not real, say leading atmospheric science experts
Well-understood physical and chemical processes can easily explain the alleged evidence of a secret, large-scale atmospheric spraying program, commonly referred to as 'chemtrails' or 'covert geoengineering.' A survey of the world's leading atmospheric scientists categorically rejects the existence of a secret spraying program.

Related Conspiracy Theories Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Jumpstarting Creativity
Our greatest breakthroughs and triumphs have one thing in common: creativity. But how do you ignite it? And how do you rekindle it? This hour, TED speakers explore ideas on jumpstarting creativity. Guests include economist Tim Harford, producer Helen Marriage, artificial intelligence researcher Steve Engels, and behavioral scientist Marily Oppezzo.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#524 The Human Network
What does a network of humans look like and how does it work? How does information spread? How do decisions and opinions spread? What gets distorted as it moves through the network and why? This week we dig into the ins and outs of human networks with Matthew Jackson, Professor of Economics at Stanford University and author of the book "The Human Network: How Your Social Position Determines Your Power, Beliefs, and Behaviours".