Multinational data show that conspiracy beliefs are associated with the perception (and reality) of poor national economic performance

Matthew J. Hornsey, Samuel Pearson, Jemima Kang, Kai Sassenberg, Jolanda Jetten, Paul A.M. Van Lange, Lucia G. Medina, Catherine E. Amiot, Liisi Ausmees, Peter Baguma, Oumar Barry, Maja Becker, Michal Bilewicz, Thomas Castelain, Giulio Costantini, Girts Dimdins, Agustín Espinosa, Gillian Finchilescu, Malte Friese, Roberto GonzálezNobuhiko Goto, Ángel Gómez, Peter Halama, Ruby Ilustrisimo, Gabriela M. Jiga-Boy, Johannes Karl, Peter Kuppens, Steve Loughnan, Marijana Markovikj, Khairul A. Mastor, Neil McLatchie, Lindsay M. Novak, Blessing N. Onyekachi, Müjde Peker, Muhammad Rizwan, Mark Schaller, Eunkook M. Suh, Sanaz Talaifar, Eddie M.W. Tong, Ana Torres, Rhiannon N. Turner, Christin Melanie Vauclair, Alexander Vinogradov, Zhechen Wang, Victoria Wai Lan Yeung, Brock Bastian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


While a great deal is known about the individual difference factors associated with conspiracy beliefs, much less is known about the country-level factors that shape people's willingness to believe conspiracy theories. In the current article we discuss the possibility that willingness to believe conspiracy theories might be shaped by the perception (and reality) of poor economic performance at the national level. To test this notion, we surveyed 6723 participants from 36 countries. In line with predictions, propensity to believe conspiracy theories was negatively associated with perceptions of current and future national economic vitality. Furthermore, countries with higher GDP per capita tended to have lower belief in conspiracy theories. The data suggest that conspiracy beliefs are not just caused by intrapsychic factors but are also shaped by difficult economic circumstances for which distrust might have a rational basis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)78-89
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Journal of Social Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2023 Feb

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors. European Journal of Social Psychology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology


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