Why More Highly Educated People Are Less Into Conspiracy Theories

Christian Jarrett writes for The BPS Digest:

Moon Landing Conspiracy Concept[…] Van Prooijen said the results suggest that “the relationship between education and belief in conspiracy theories cannot be reduced to a single psychological mechanism but is the product of the complex interplay of multiple psychological processes.”

The nature of his study means we can’t infer that education or the related factors he measured actually cause less belief in conspiracies. But it makes theoretical sense that they might be involved: for example, more education usually increases people’s sense of control over their lives (though there are exceptions, for instance among people from marginalized groups), while it is feelings of powerlessness that is one of the things that often attracts people to conspiracy theories.

Importantly, Van Prooijen said his findings help make sense of why education can contribute to “a less paranoid society” even when conspiracy theories are not explicitly challenged. “By teaching children analytic thinking skills along with the insight that societal problems often have no simple solutions, by stimulating a sense of control, and by promoting a sense that one is a valued member of society, education is likely to install the mental tools that are needed to approach far-fetched conspiracy theories with a healthy dose of skepticism.”

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One response

  1. I had to like this post for the laughable proposition :- higher levels of education reduce belief in conspiracy theories.

    The CDC is corrupt and a tool of Big Pharma, conspiracy theory belief? Nope, fact! CDC whistleblower exposed MMR vaccine trial fraud.

    Criminal lawyers, investigators, intelligence personnel tend to be highly educated but must deal with the evidence conspiratorial or not. True truth seekers/researchers follow evidence, direct, temporal or circumstantial to prove a link or debunk a narrative e.g russians hacked the DNC.

    In fact you could argue the reverse: a simple minded, uneducated person believes in the “reality” as espoused by the main stream media and governments/governminds.

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