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Are Republicans and Conservatives More Likely to Believe Conspiracy Theories?

Enders, Adam; Farhart, Christina; Miller, Joanne; Uscinski, Joseph; Saunders, Kyle; Drochon, Hugo

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Authors

Adam Enders

Christina Farhart

Joanne Miller

Joseph Uscinski

Kyle Saunders



Abstract

A sizable literature tracing back to Richard Hofstadter’s The Paranoid Style (1964) argues that Republicans and conservatives are more likely to believe conspiracy theories than Democrats and liberals. However, the evidence for this proposition is mixed. Since conspiracy theory beliefs are associated with dangerous orientations and behaviors, it is imperative that social scientists better understand the connection between conspiracy theories and political orientations. Employing 20 surveys of Americans from 2012 to 2021 (total n = 37,776), as well as surveys of 20 additional countries spanning six continents (total n = 26,416), we undertake an expansive investigation of the asymmetry thesis. First, we examine the relationship between beliefs in 52 conspiracy theories and both partisanship and ideology in the U.S.; this analysis is buttressed by an examination of beliefs in 11 conspiracy theories across 20 more countries. In our second test, we hold constant the content of the conspiracy theories investigated—manipulating only the partisanship of the theorized villains—to decipher whether those on the left or right are more likely to accuse political out-groups of conspiring. Finally, we inspect correlations between political orientations and the general predisposition to believe in conspiracy theories over the span of a decade. In no instance do we observe systematic evidence of a political asymmetry. Instead, the strength and direction of the relationship between political orientations and conspiricism is dependent on the characteristics of the specific conspiracy beliefs employed by researchers and the socio-political context in which those ideas are considered.

Citation

Enders, A., Farhart, C., Miller, J., Uscinski, J., Saunders, K., & Drochon, H. (2023). Are Republicans and Conservatives More Likely to Believe Conspiracy Theories?. Political Behavior, 45, 2001-2024. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11109-022-09812-3

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 11, 2022
Online Publication Date Jul 22, 2022
Publication Date 2023-12
Deposit Date Aug 8, 2022
Publicly Available Date Jul 23, 2023
Journal Political Behavior
Print ISSN 0190-9320
Electronic ISSN 1573-6687
Publisher Springer Science and Business Media LLC
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 45
Pages 2001-2024
DOI https://doi.org/10.1007/s11109-022-09812-3
Keywords Sociology and Political Science
Public URL https://nottingham-repository.worktribe.com/output/9897486
Publisher URL https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11109-022-09812-3

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