Season 2 Ep 25: Why People believe Conspiracies

Conspiracy Theories seem everywhere these days. How about the psychology of how they work? In this episode, I’ll explore how they work and why they work.

Conspiracy theories are explanations that refer to hidden groups working in secret to achieve sinister objectives.


Personality traits such as openness to experience, distrust, low agreeability, and Machiavellianism are associated with conspiracy belief.

Circumstances and Psychological background

They are likely more alienated and socially isolated

Lack belonging

Low self esteem


Collective setbacks


Driven by people not facts

We look for patterns

We look for certainty

We look for control


Fake news

Social Distrust

Social Media

Conspiracy theories make a person feel special (more informed than others) not sheeple. They have woken up and aren’t in the matrix of sleep that most people are.

Triggered by loss of control


Right people

Appeal to identity

Appeal to fears/anger

Claim expertise  – authority trappings and social proof

Counter intuitive – scaracity

Strong headlines / vivid photos

Take out of context

To help a person out of a conspiracy theory

Provide alternative examples

Agree with agreeables

Increase analytical thinking

Ask questions and challenge evidence, source, evidence of source, and conclusion drawn.

Focus on their defence not attack

Get them to look at contradictions in the evidence

Focus on probabilities