Misplaced certainty in the context of conspiracy theories

Gabriele Oettingen, Anton Gollwitzer, Jiin Jung, Olcaysoy Okten Irmak Olcaysoy Okten

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


We examine conspiracy beliefs in the context of misplaced certainty—certainty that is unsubstantiated by one's own or others' skepticism. A conspiracy theory held with misplaced certainty may entail, for instance, “knowing” or feeling certain that secret actors are plotting against society yet acknowledging that this claim lacks evidence or is opposed by most other people. Recent work on misplaced certainty suggests that misplaced certainty predicts and results in antisocial outcomes, including fanatical behavior in terms of aggression, determined ignorance, and adherence to extreme groups. Introducing the concept of misplaced certainty to theory and research on conspiracy theories may help identify when and why conspiracy theories lead to deleterious behavioral outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101393
JournalCurrent Opinion in Psychology
StatePublished - Aug 2022


  • Aggression
  • Conspiracy theories
  • Determined ignorance
  • Epistemology
  • Extremism
  • Fanaticism
  • Misplaced certainty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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