The functional nature of conspiracy beliefs: Examining the underpinnings of belief in the Da Vinci Code conspiracy

Anna Kaisa Newheiser, Miguel Farias, Nicole Tausch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

60 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Focusing on a contemporary conspiracy theory popularized in the novel The Da Vinci Code (Brown, 2002), we examined the underlying psychological factors and individual differences that may predict belief in conspiracy theories, and assessed such beliefs' resistance to counterevidence. Our results suggest that belief in the Da Vinci Code conspiracy may be associated with coping with existential threat and death-related anxiety. In addition, the extent to which participants believed in the conspiracy was associated with the endorsement of congruent (New Age spiritual) and competing (Christian religious) beliefs, in opposite directions. Finally, exposure to counterevidence resulted in belief reduction, specifically among more religious participants (i.e. among those endorsing a competing belief system). We suggest that belief in modern conspiracy theories may help individuals attain or maintain a sense of meaning, control, and security.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1007-1011
Number of pages5
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Volume51
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2011
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Belief resilience
  • Belief systems
  • Conspiracy theories
  • Existential anxiety
  • Meaning maintenance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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