An article has come to my attention that claims conspiracy theorists are likely to be narcissists. Narcissism is a personality trait that includes excessive vanity, a grandiose opinion of one's own qualities and abilities; and sometimes these cover up internal low self-esteem. The word originates from Greek mythology, a story about a man who fell in love with his own image reflected in a pool of water. This new idea about conspiracy theorists comes from a study carried out by psychologists at the
. They conducted an online
correspondence with a number of people asking about their belief in popular
conspiracy theories, for instance: Were the moon landings faked? Do governments
carry out false flag terrorism on their own soil? etc. Alongside this they were
given a questionnaire that gauged their narcissistic personality traits. There
was a distinct correlation between those who scored high and those who were
open to conspiracy theoretical ideas. The lead author of the report, Dr
Aleksandra Cichocka said: "Narcissists
think that they are better than other people. At the same time, they are
convinced that others are constantly trying to undermine them. This fosters
paranoia and a conviction that others might conspire against them... We find
that people high in narcissism are more likely to believe in various conspiracy
theories. This does not mean that all narcissists believe in all conspiracies.
It also does not mean that everyone who believes in some conspiracy theories is
necessarily a narcissist." Interestingly, despite the statement from
the article's author: "In the
internet age conspiracy theories can incubate in quiet corners of the web, but
it may be psychological predispositions of believers which keep them alive,
rather than cold hard facts." There is almost no discussion of any
factual issue. They do refer to Dr David Grimes' explanation, as have I, see
here at about 46 minutes in: http://hpanwo-radio.blogspot.co.uk/2016/03/programme-179-podcast-marcus-allen.html.
It's only when you get down to the comments section that people start asking
the obvious question: What if some conspiracy theories are real? These days in the media, the comments are always far more
interesting than the newspaper articles. Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3482408/Believe-conspiracy-theories-probably-narcissist-People-doubt-moon-landings-likely-selfish-attention-seeking.html.
I hope this study is mistaken because narcissists are usually very unpleasant
people. Their inflated ego tends to regard others as inferior and objects of
contempt; either that or the hidden low-self-esteem makes them feel others as
threatening and therefore to be treated with hostility. I decided to test
myself using this online survey: http://psychcentral.com/quizzes/narcissistic.htm.
I scored 14, which is dead on the median average. According to this test I am
not a narcissist. I'm sure readers will agree that my level of conspiracy
theory belief does not need additional testing. University
One name comes to mind that is very notable by its absence from the report: Prof. Karen Douglas. She is a top research psychologist, also from the
and she has conducted a thorough analysis of conspiracy theorists and what
makes us tick. She says: "My
primary research focus is on beliefs in conspiracy theories. Why are conspiracy
theories so popular? Who believes them? Why do people believe them? What are
some of the consequences of conspiracy theories and can such theories be
harmful?" See: https://www.kent.ac.uk/psychology/people/douglask/.
She has published a paper entitled Organizational
conspiracy theories and work-related outcomes; and I know only too well
what those outcomes can be, see: http://hpanwo-hpwa.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/one-year-on.html.
She could use me as a guinea pig. I saw her give a live lecture at the British
Humanist Association's conspiracy theory conference in 2011 where she made it
clear that her focus was not on whether conspiracy theories are factually true
or false, only why people believe them. I responded by suggesting she carries
out a similar study on skeptics, but my sarcasm went right over her head, see: http://hpanwo.blogspot.co.uk/2011/09/british-humanist-association-conspiracy.html.
Nevertheless I have attempted to do one myself, see background links below. The
reason Prof. Douglas' name can't be found on that paper might be related to another
report she wrote in 2013 with a colleague Michael J Wood indicating that
conspiracy theorists are "more sane" than their detractors. This is
an extraordinary statement for somebody in her position to make. Does this
indicate that she is changing her mind? See: http://hpanwo-voice.blogspot.co.uk/2014/10/conspiracy-theorists-more-sane-than.html.
Next weekend I will be speaking at a conference alongside Prof. Douglas and I
hope I get the chance to ask her for more information on this matter, see: http://hpanwo-voice.blogspot.co.uk/2016/09/ben-emlyn-jones-at-assap-seriously.html.
University of Kent
See here for background: http://hpanwo-tv.blogspot.co.uk/2016/07/skeptics-who-are-they-why-are-they.html.http://hpanwo-tv.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/challenge-to-skeptics-bust-spooky.html.