Does fulfilling a need for uniqueness decrease conspiracy theory endorsement?




Libretto, Carina


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With the recent increase of measles outbreaks, there has been a rising concern regarding anti-vaccination conspiracy theories. Conspiracy theories are belief systems endorsed by some individuals in which powerful, malevolent groups work in secret to orchestrate world events. Research on conspiracy theories has increased in the past decade. Several scholars have examined a number of epistemic, existential, and social motivations for conspiracy theory endorsement. Others, to a lesser degree, have inspected individual factors such as analytical thinking styles and education. The current study hypothesized that fulfilling individuals’ need for uniqueness by providing bogus personality questionnaire feedback would result in decreased endorsement of conspiracy theories. Furthermore, those who receive bogus feedback indicating they lack uniqueness will be more likely to endorse conspiracy theories. Two hundred and seventeen students were recruited from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. Participants completed a bogus personality questionnaire. After receiving either positive uniqueness feedback or negative uniqueness feedback, participants completed the Need for Uniqueness Scale, the Generic Conspiracist Beliefs Scale-Short, and the Rational Experiential Inventory-short. Analyses revealed that manipulating participants’ need for uniqueness did not impact conspiracy theory endorsement. This may be because the manipulation of need for uniqueness was ineffective as bogus feedback may have been too specific or participants did not perceived feedback as accurate.





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