Conspiracy believers claim to be free thinkers but (Under)Use advice like everyone else

Sacha Altay, Kenzo Nera, Waqas Ejaz, Céline Schöpfer, Frédéric Tomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Conspiracy believers often claim to be critical thinkers their ‘own research’ instead of relying on others' testimony. In two preregistered behavioural studies conducted in the United Kingdom and Pakistan (N participants = 864, N trials = 5408), we test whether conspiracy believers have a general tendency to discount social information (in favour of their own opinions and intuitions). We found that conspiracy mentality is not associated with social information use in text-based (Study 1) and image-based (Study 2) advice-taking tasks. Yet, we found discrepancies between self-reported and actual social information use. Conspiracy believers were more likely to report relying less on social information than actually relying less on social information in the behavioural tasks. Our results suggest that the scepticism of conspiracy believers towards epistemic authorities is unlikely to be the manifestation of a general tendency to discount social information. Conspiracy believers may be more permeable to social influence than they sometimes claim.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1782-1797
Number of pages16
JournalBritish Journal of Social Psychology
Volume62
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023

Keywords

  • Advice taking
  • Conformity
  • Conspiracy mentality
  • Conspiracy theories
  • Critical thinking
  • Egocentric discounting
  • Epistemic individualism
  • Misinformation
  • Social influence
  • Social information

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