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Front Psychol. 2013 May 21;4:279. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00279. eCollection 2013.

Measuring belief in conspiracy theories: the generic conspiracist beliefs scale.

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1
Department of Psychology, Goldsmiths University of London London, UK.

Abstract

The psychology of conspiracy theory beliefs is not yet well understood, although research indicates that there are stable individual differences in conspiracist ideation - individuals' general tendency to engage with conspiracy theories. Researchers have created several short self-report measures of conspiracist ideation. These measures largely consist of items referring to an assortment of prominent conspiracy theories regarding specific real-world events. However, these instruments have not been psychometrically validated, and this assessment approach suffers from practical and theoretical limitations. Therefore, we present the Generic Conspiracist Beliefs (GCB) scale: a novel measure of individual differences in generic conspiracist ideation. The scale was developed and validated across four studies. In Study 1, exploratory factor analysis of a novel 75-item measure of non-event-based conspiracist beliefs identified five conspiracist facets. The 15-item GCB scale was developed to sample from each of these themes. Studies 2, 3, and 4 examined the structure and validity of the GCB, demonstrating internal reliability, content, criterion-related, convergent and discriminant validity, and good test-retest reliability. In sum, this research indicates that the GCB is a psychometrically sound and practically useful measure of conspiracist ideation, and the findings add to our theoretical understanding of conspiracist ideation as a monological belief system unpinned by a relatively small number of generic assumptions about the typicality of conspiratorial activity in the world.

KEYWORDS:

conspiracist ideation; conspiracy theories; individual differences; personality; psychometric instrument; scale design

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