Belief in conspiracy theories has been linked to various factors, including low levels of critical thinking, a need to feel special, and even a yearning for excitement and thrills. But how does political ideology come into it? Some studies suggest that there is a straightforward association, in which people with more extreme right-wing views are more prone to conspiracy theories. But other work has found a “U-shaped” relationship, where conspiratorial thinking is more common among people on the extremes of both the right and left compared to those with more moderate views.
The latter finding has tended to come from research into a small group of relatively prosperous nations, note the authors of a new study in Nature Human Behaviour. But now, looking at data from more than 100,000 people across 26 countries, the team finds further evidence that conspiracy theories are more common among the far left as well as the right, and provides some suggestions as to why this is the case. Continue reading →