The Elite Is Up to Something: Exploring the Relation Between Populism and Belief in Conspiracy Theories
The next PolBeRG seminar will take place on Thursday 10.11. – 19.10h - (FT 908). Bruno de Paula Castanho, Federico Vegetti, and Levi will present a paper titled “The Elite Is Up to Something: Exploring the Relation Between Populism and Belief in Conspiracy Theories”.
We explore the relationship between populist attitudes and conspiratorial beliefs on the individual level with three studies. In the first two, we use surveys with American residents to test whether holding conspiratorial beliefs predicts populist attitudes. Our results show that belief in certain kinds of conspiracies are associated with populism, and that holding a conspiratorial mentality predicts all separate dimensions of populist attitudes – people-centrism, anti- elitism, and a good-versus-evil view of politics. In the third, we investigate experimentally whether individuals who are more prone to believe in conspiracies are more likely to vote for a populist candidate, as opposed to a non-populist one. These results also lend support to the idea that conspiratorial beliefs and preference for populist discourse are associated. These findings contribute to research on the correlates of populism at the individual level, which is essential to understanding why this phenomenon is so strong in contemporary democracies.
Hope to see you all at the seminar!