Published by Sage Journals, 2020

Authors: Annemarie S Walter and Hugo Drochon (Conspiracy and Democracy project)

What explains conspiracy thinking in Europe and America? This is the first and largest comparative study of conspiracy thinking to date, presenting findings using a representative sample of 11,523 respondents in nine countries. First, it shows that the overall level of conspiracy thinking in Europe is equal to or slightly lower than the United States, contradicting the notion that conspiracy theories is an especially American phenomenon. Second, people more inclined to conspiracy thinking position themselves towards the right of the political spectrum, engage in magical thinking, feel distrust towards public officials and reject the political system. Finally, we find that – surprisingly – the country context in which respondents reside has hardly any effect as predictor of levels of conspiracy thinking or as a moderator of individual-level determinants. Heterogeneity in conspiratorial thinking seems to be largely a function of individual traits.

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