Conspiracy theory research with made up conspiracy


New Member

I know there's been a university(?) research where they asked how likely the conspiracy seemed to be true in which they made up a conspiracy which scored rather high. I can't seem to find it in my bookmarks. Does anyone know what research I'm thinking of?

I vaguely recall something like you're describing but I can't find it.

Closest I can find is the "Birds aren't real" fake conspiracy theory.

From The Guardian

They made up facts, faked secretly leaked CIA documents and made videos – “we created a world with laws and evidence” – and took out billboard adverts, which people posted on Instagram as selfie backdrops. “If you put something absurd into the world, people are trying to present themselves as irreverent or funny, so that really spread.”

Meanwhile, “real conspiracy theorists,” he says, “will approach me like I’m their brother, like I’m part of their team. They will start spouting hateful rhetoric and racist ideas, because they feel as if I’m safe.”
Found it!

Too special to be duped: Need for uniqueness motivates conspiracy beliefs

Following up on previous findings that people high in need for uniqueness resist majority and yield to minority influence, Study 3 experimentally shows that a fictitious conspiracy theory received more support by people high in conspiracy mentality when this theory was said to be supported by only a minority (vs. majority) of survey respondents. Together, these findings support the notion that conspiracy beliefs can be adopted as a means to attain a sense of uniqueness.

This is fascinating stuff, thanks for sharing.

The need for uniqueness is often associated with narcissism which led me to Google and to discover this study linking conspiracy theories with narcissistic tendencies:


Narcissism—a conviction about one's superiority and entitlement to special treatment—is a robust predictor of belief in conspiracy theories. Recent developments in the study of narcissism suggest that it has three components: antagonism, agentic extraversion, and neuroticism. We argue that each of these components of narcissism might predispose people to endorse conspiracy theories due to different psychological processes. Specifically, we discuss the role of paranoia, gullibility, and the needs for dominance, control, and uniqueness. We also review parallel findings for narcissistic beliefs about one's social groups. We consider the wider implications this research might have, especially for political leadership. We conclude by discussing outstanding questions about sharing conspiracy theories and other forms of misinformation.

Obviously we must be careful not to misconstrue that every or even most conspiracy theorists are narcissists or that narcissists aren't to be found amongst believers in more mainstream modes of thought. Even skeptical 'communities' might attract a sub-group of narcissists needing to feel uniquely intelligent as compared to 'stupid' believers or lay folks.