Repetition-Induced Conspiracism? Initial Evidence from Analyses of Two Large-Scale Surveys of Conspiracism in the French Public Opinion

Abstract : Why individuals believe in conspiracy theories is both a theoretical and an applied present day problem. While recent research mostly focused on individual differences and motives, we know little about manipulated variables affecting conspiracism. Based on the truth effect literature consistently demonstrating that already seen and perceived as already seen statements are more likely to be judged as true than new ones, we hypothesized that repeated exposure to conspiracy theories could increase the likelihood to believe such theories. A repetition-induced conspiracism would contribute challenging truth ambiguity as a boundary condition of the effect. To provide an initial test of this hypothesis, we analyzed data from two surveys conducted in representative samples of the French population (IFOP, 2017, 2019). Participants indicated both their adherence and recognition judgement for 10 conspiracy statements in each survey, corresponding overall to 17 widespread conspiracy theories. We found a “truth effect” in each dataset, although with different magnitudes. Furthermore, the truth effect was positively associated to conspiracy mentality. These results suggest that the truth effect might be a mechanism by which individuals form beliefs in conspiracy theories, and add up to the recent reassessment of truth ambiguity as a boundary condition of the truth effect. In indicating a possible repetition-induced conspiracism, these analyses call for studies whose aim is to better estimate to what extent and in which conditions repeated exposure increases conspiracism.
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https://hal-univ-tlse2.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-02304307
Contributor : Jérémy Béna <>
Submitted on : Thursday, October 3, 2019 - 10:33:52 AM
Last modification on : Friday, October 4, 2019 - 2:01:47 AM

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Jérémy Béna, Ophélie Carreras, Patrice Terrier. Repetition-Induced Conspiracism? Initial Evidence from Analyses of Two Large-Scale Surveys of Conspiracism in the French Public Opinion. 2019. ⟨hal-02304307⟩

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