Conspiracy theories: Meanings in the Brazilian context

Alessandro Teixeira REZENDE Flávia Marcelly de Sousa Mendes da SILVA Maria Gabriela Costa RIBEIRO Gleidson Diego Lopes LOURETO Olindina Fernandes da SILVA NETA Valdiney Veloso GOUVEIA About the authors

Abstract

The aim of the study was to understand the meanings attributed to conspiracy theories in a Brazilian sample. Participants were 383 undergraduate students (54.6% females; Mage = 21.9) from a public institution in João Pessoa, Paraíba. They answered demographic questions and two open-ended questions (What do you understand by conspiracy theories?; What comes to your mind when you think of conspiracy theories?). Based on the descending hierarchical classification analysis, five classes were identified: (1) theories without scientific foundation, (2) manipulation of secret groups, (3) explanation of social reality, (4) contestation of social facts, and (5) information control. In general, the meanings attributed to conspiracy theories were associated with the explanation of events in social reality and existence of secret groups that control important events. These findings were discussed in light of studies on conspiracy theories in Psychology, and they revealed congruence with the conception that was developed for this construct.

Keywords
Beliefs; Meaning; Theories

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