Introducing conspiracy intuitions to better understand conspiracy beliefs

Curr Opin Psychol. 2022 Oct;47:101395. doi: 10.1016/j.copsyc.2022.101395. Epub 2022 Jun 16.


Belief in conspiracy theories results from a combination of intuitive and deliberative cognitive processes (van Prooijen, Klein, & Milošević Đorđević, 2020). We propose a novel construct, conspiracy intuitions, the subjective sense that an event or circumstance is not adequately explained or accounted for by existing narratives, potentially for nefarious reasons, as an initial stage in the acquisition of conspiracy beliefs that can be distinguished from conspiracy beliefs themselves. We draw on both the conspiracy theory and magical thinking literature to make a case for conspiracy intuitions, suggest methods for measuring them, and argue that efforts to combat conspiracy theories in society could benefit from strategies that attend to the intuitive properties of the proto-beliefs that precede them.

Keywords: Conspiracy intuitions; Dual-process models; Magical thinking.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Intuition*
  • Thinking*