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Conspiracy Thinking in Europe and America: A Comparative Study

Walter, Annemarie S; Drochon, Hugo

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What explains conspiracy thinking in Europe and America? This is the first and largest comparative study of conspiracy thinking to date, presenting findings using a representative sample of 11,523 respondents in nine countries. First, it shows that the overall level of conspiracy thinking in Europe is equal to or slightly lower than the United States, contradicting the notion that conspiracy theories is an especially American phenomenon. Second, people more inclined to conspiracy thinking position themselves towards the right of the political spectrum, engage in magical thinking, feel distrust towards public officials and reject the political system. Finally, we find that – surprisingly – the country context in which respondents reside has hardly any effect as predictor of levels of conspiracy thinking or as a moderator of individual-level determinants. Heterogeneity in conspiratorial thinking seems to be largely a function of individual traits.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 8, 2020
Online Publication Date Dec 16, 2020
Publication Date 2022-05
Deposit Date Nov 10, 2020
Publicly Available Date Dec 16, 2020
Journal Political Studies
Print ISSN 0032-3217
Electronic ISSN 1467-9248
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 70
Issue 2
Pages 483-501
Keywords Conspiracy Theory; Conspiracy Thinking; Misinformation; Europe; United States
Public URL
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