The complex relationship between conspiracy belief and the politics of social change

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Conspiracy belief intersects with the politics of social change in complex and sometimes contradictory ways. On one hand, social change is experienced as stressful by many, and it can generate feelings of uncertainty, insecurity, and loss of control that elicit beliefs that may impede needed change and even generate new problems. On the other hand, conspiracy belief and conspiratorial thinking, by shedding doubt on the benevolence of powerful individuals and institutions, may fuel radical resistance to the status quo on both the political left and right. In this article, I explore recent theory and research on these two seemingly-opposed ways of thinking about the connection between conspiracy theories and the politics of social change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101354
JournalCurrent Opinion in Psychology
StatePublished - Oct 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Thanks to Jan-Willem van Prooijen and Roland Imhoff for comments on an earlier version of this article.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier Ltd


  • Conspiracy ideation
  • Conspiracy theory
  • Social change
  • System identity threat

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Review


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