In a new paper published in the British Journal of Social Psychology, we have found that people who believe in conspiracy theories – such as the theory that Princess Diana was murdered by the British establishment – are more likely to accept or engage in everyday criminal activity.
In our first study, the findings indicated that people who believed in conspiracy theories were more accepting of everyday crime, such as trying to claim for replacement items, refunds or compensation from a shop when they were not entitled to do so.
In a second study, we found that exposure to conspiracy theories made people more likely to intend to engage in everyday crime in the future. We found that this tendency was directly linked to an individual’s feeling of a lack of social cohesion or shared values, known as ‘anomie’.
In summary, our research has shown for the first time the role that conspiracy theories can play in determining an individual’s attitude to everyday crime. Specifically, we found that that belief in conspiracy theories, previously associated with prejudice, political disengagement and environmental inaction, also makes people more inclined to actively engage in antisocial behaviour. It demonstrates that people subscribing to the view that others have conspired might be more inclined toward unethical actions.
You can find out more about the psychology of conspiracy theories on YouTube: