From Nibiru to climate change not being real, conspiracy theories seem to be ever present in our lives. Quashing them can be difficult, though, as they constantly seem to be rearing their heads in one form or another.
Now, two separate studies have suggested why people think the Moon landings were faked, vaccines cause autism, and more. They suggest people might believe in conspiracy theories in order to feel unique.
As picked up by PsyPost, the two studies are available in Social Psychology and the European Journal of Social Psychology.
The former was titled “I know things they don’t know!”. More than 1,000 people took part. The researchers found that people who supported conspiracy theories were more likely to think they had information no one else had.
They also found that those who wanted to be more unique were also more likely to believe a particular theory. The same was true for people that were encouraged to be unique.
“These studies suggest that conspiracy theories may serve people’s desire to be unique, highlighting a motivational underpinning of conspiracy belief,” the team, led by Anthony Lantian from Grenoble Alps University in France, said in their paper.
They noted, however, that they weren’t sure if this was a consequence of what conspiracy theories themselves contained, or whether it was simply that the theories were unconventional.
In the second study, more than 1,000 participants were also used. Titled “Too special to be duped”, it found that the desire to stick out from the crowd drove irrational beliefs.
In three experiments, they found similar findings. Namely, people who wanted to be unique were more likely to believe and endorse conspiracy theories. They also found that a conspiracy theory that was made up received more support when participants were told only a minority of people believed it.
“Together, these findings support the notion that conspiracy beliefs can be adopted as a means to attain a sense of uniqueness,” the authors, Roland Imhoff and Pia Karoline Lamberty from the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz in Germany, wrote.
So the next time someone tells you the Bermuda triangle is swallowing planes or the Illuminati run the world, remember they’re probably just looking to stand out.