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Have beliefs in conspiracy theories increased over time?

Uscinski, Joseph; Enders, Adam; Klofstad, Casey; Seelig, Michelle; Drochon, Hugo; Premaratne, Kamal; Murthi, Manohar


Joseph Uscinski

Adam Enders

Casey Klofstad

Michelle Seelig

Kamal Premaratne

Manohar Murthi


Sean Eric Richey


The public is convinced that beliefs in conspiracy theories are increasing, and many scholars, journalists, and policymakers agree. Given the associations between conspiracy theories and many non-normative tendencies, lawmakers have called for policies to address these increases. However, little evidence has been provided to demonstrate that beliefs in conspiracy theories have, in fact, increased over time. We address this evidentiary gap. Study 1 investigates change in the proportion of Americans believing 46 conspiracy theories; our observations in some instances span half a century. Study 2 examines change in the proportion of individuals across six European countries believing six conspiracy theories. Study 3 traces beliefs about which groups are conspiring against "us,"while Study 4 tracks generalized conspiracy thinking in the U.S. from 2012 to 2021. In no instance do we observe systematic evidence for an increase in conspiracism, however operationalized. We discuss the theoretical and policy implications of our findings.


Uscinski, J., Enders, A., Klofstad, C., Seelig, M., Drochon, H., Premaratne, K., & Murthi, M. (2022). Have beliefs in conspiracy theories increased over time?. PLoS ONE, 17(7), Article e0270429.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 8, 2022
Online Publication Date Jul 20, 2022
Publication Date Jul 20, 2022
Deposit Date Aug 8, 2022
Publicly Available Date Aug 8, 2022
Journal PLOS ONE
Electronic ISSN 1932-6203
Publisher Public Library of Science
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 17
Issue 7
Article Number e0270429
Keywords Multidisciplinary
Public URL
Publisher URL


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