What is Conspiracy Theory Psychology?
The extreme form of distrust and cynicism can lead to paranoia. The milder form is the much more common cognitive bias known as the "fundamental attribution error."
If someone believes the lunar landing was a hoax, that person must have a mental illness, or so it was once thought. However, the prevalence of belief in conspiracy theories - ranging from 9/11 to John F. Kennedy's assassination - is so extensive that a new discipline has emerged to take a deeper look. It is called conspiracy theory psychology.
So what psychological characteristics lead to a general belief in conspiracies? According to a 1999 study led by researchers at New Mexico State University, the strongest predictor is a "lack of trust."
"People low in trust of others are likely to believe that others are colluding against them," the authors concluded.
A later study led by a team at the University of Westminster drew similar conclusions, and also linked belief in conspiracies to "political cynicism."
The extreme form of distrust and cynicism can lead to paranoia. The milder form is the much more common cognitive bias known as the "fundamental attribution error." This bias leads us to attribute peoples' behavior to personality traits while excluding the importance of chance as well as situational factors.
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Dogs' floppy ears may be part of why they and other domesticated animals love humans so much.
- Nearly all domestic animals share several key traits in addition to friendliness to humans, traits such as floppy ears, a spotted coat, a shorter snout, and so on.
- Researchers have been puzzled as to why these traits keep showing up in disparate species, even when they aren't being bred for those qualities. This is known as "domestication syndrome."
- Now, researchers are pointing to a group of a cells called neural crest cells as the key to understanding domestication syndrome.
Protected animals are feared to be headed for the black market.
Giving our solar system a "slap in the face."
- A stream of galactic debris is hurtling at us, pulling dark matter along with it
- It's traveling so quickly it's been described as a hurricane of dark matter
- Scientists are excited to set their particle detectors at the onslffaught
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