Flat Earth, Faked moon landing, Paul is dead, Faked Climate change. Those are several of the most and controversial conspiracy theories. Now, this post will not explain you about what is right and what is wrong. But this post will explain you about the mental process that contributes and affecting the creation and the sharing process of conspiracy theories.
Now conspiracy theories could actually harm our society in a way that is so fast and impacting a large number of our population. Sander van der Linden said in Personality and Individual Differences that “Participants who were exposed to the conspiracy video were significantly less likely to think that there is widespread scientific agreement on
human-caused climate change, less likely to sign a petition to help reduce global warming and less likely to donate or volunteer for a charity in the next six months.”
So because it’s dangerous, let’s see the mental processes that usually affect people to believe in it and how people made those theories. So in we could learn from it and probably be a more critical thinker.
HOW CONSPIRACY THEORIES ARE MADE
So How and Why people make conspiracy theories? The main reason, is because there is lack of control, power, and explanation of the occurred events or current situation. Eric Oliver and Thomas Wood explain conspiracy theory in American Journal of Political Science as a “Political explanations and offer new perspectives on the forces that shape mass opinion and American political culture.”
When there is an ambiguity, people tend to find reasons why that event happened. On of the mental process that responsible for the making of the conspiracy theories is called pattern recognition. Pattern recognition is an instinctive and effortless process when we match and organize information into another information from our brain.
So when there are possible explanations in our brain about something that ambiguous, we tend to subconsciously justify our possible explanations in our mind to explain the question, even though our possible explanation sometimes could be irrational and unrealistic.
So that means that conspiracy theory not always wrong. In fact, there are some conspiracy theories that proved to be true, like the MKUltra mind control experiment, The bohemian grove, etc.
After the conspiracy author has an idea, they will gather as many information as they can, to support their idea. This is the phase when confirmation bias influences the author. Confirmation bias is the likeliness for people to only display and looks for the resources that support the believed idea or value. In this case, the value (conspiracy theory) supported by the resources that confirm the conspiracy theory.
This bias is perfectly illustrated in flat earth society’s videos, they keep repeating the same information that supports their ideas and denying (in the more impolite way = hiding) the fact that contradict flat earth theory.
Now in my next post, I will explain to you why people believed in conspiracy theory. There will be another 3 mental processes that usually involved when people exposed to conspiracy theory, the next post will also conclude our discussion about conspiracy theory from psychological perspective.
Before going to my next post, please tell us in the comment below what do you think about the process of an author making conspiracy theory! Tell us your opinion!
REFERENCES AND SUPPORTING ARTICLES
Linden, S. V. (2015). The conspiracy-effect: Exposure to conspiracy theories (about global warming) decreases pro-social behavior and science acceptance. Personality and Individual Differences,87, 171-173. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2015.07.045
Oliver, J., & Wood, T. (2014). Conspiracy Theories and the Paranoid Style(s) of Mass
Opinion. American Journal of Political Science, 58(4), 952-966. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/24363536
Conspiracy theory. (2017, July 26). Retrieved July 28, 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conspiracy_theory
Pattern recognition (psychology). (2017, July 22). Retrieved July 28, 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pattern_recognition_(psychology)
Confirmation bias. (2017, July 26). Retrieved July 28, 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confirmation_bias