How social identity shapes conspiratorial belief

Claire E. Robertson, Clara Pretus, Steve Rathje, Elizabeth A. Harris, Jay J. Van Bavel

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


While conspiracy theories may offer benefits to those who believe in them, they can also foster intergroup conflict, threaten democracy, and undercut public health. We argue that the motivations behind conspiracy theory belief are often related to social identity. Conspiracy theories are well-positioned to fulfill social identity needs such as belongingness goals, the need to think highly of one's in-group, and the need to feel secure in one's group status. Understanding the social motives that attract people to conspiracy theories should be a focus of future research, and may be key to creating more successful interventions to reduce socially harmful conspiracy theories.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101423
JournalCurrent Opinion in Psychology
StatePublished - Oct 2022


  • Conspiracy theories
  • Misinformation
  • Social identity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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