Individual difference factors and beliefs in medical and political conspiracy theories

Scand J Psychol. 2017 Oct;58(5):422-428. doi: 10.1111/sjop.12382. Epub 2017 Aug 7.


This study examined the relationship between a series of individual difference measures and belief in political and medical conspiracy theories. Participants (N = 323) rated 20 conspiracy theories (10 medical, 10 political) and completed a set of questionnaires. Belief in political conspiracies was strongly positively correlated with belief in medical conspiracies. Belief in both conspiracy types was correlated with low self-esteem, low Conscientiousness, more right-wing political views, younger age, and greater belief in the benefits of Alternative Medicine. It was also correlated with religiousness and gender. Low Emotional Stability and Agreeableness were also correlated with belief in political conspiracies, and higher education level was correlated with belief in medical conspiracies. The findings generally demonstrated support for a monological belief system. Implications and limitations are discussed.

Keywords: Personality; alternative medicine; conspiracy theories; self-esteem.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Individuality*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Politics*
  • Self Concept
  • Young Adult