Introducing the Adolescent Conspiracy Beliefs Questionnaire (ACBQ)

Conspiracy theories can affect people’s beliefs and behaviours in significant ways. For example, they can influence decisions on important issues such as climate change and vaccination. Despite their importance, however, all of the existing research on conspiracy theories has been conducted with adults, and questionnaires to measure conspiracy beliefs have been designed only with adults in mind. Therefore, we do not currently know when and why conspiracy beliefs develop in young people, and how they change over time. This timely project – funded by the British Academy – has developed and validated a conspiracy beliefs questionnaire suitable for young people, called the Adolescent Conspiracy Beliefs Questionnaire (ACBQ).

We tested the ACBQ on a range of young people in the UK, allowing us to finalise 9 questions that measure young people’s belief in conspiracy theories. The ACBQ includes  questions such as “secret societies influence many political decisions” and “governments have deliberately spread diseases in certain groups of people”. Participants completing the scale are asked to respond to each statement on a scale from 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree). A higher mean score indicates a higher belief in conspiracy theories.

14 could be a peak age for believing in conspiracy theories

It was during the process of testing the ACBQ that we found that conspiracy theories flourished in teenage years. More specifically, we found that 14 is the age adolescents are most likely to start believing in conspiracy theories. We uncovered this by examining whether age group differences existed in conspiracy beliefs. In the second stage of testing the ACBQ – where we questioned 178 adolescents – we found as teenagers join Year 10 at age 14 (i.e. Key Stage 4 in the UK national curriculum), their conspiracy beliefs are higher than their younger counterparts. Learn more on this finding here.

Read the paper published in British Journal of Developmental Psychology (open-access)

Read the press release, or a longer piece in The i Paper

Download the 9-item ACBQ

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6 Responses to Introducing the Adolescent Conspiracy Beliefs Questionnaire (ACBQ)

  1. Pingback: Introducing the Adolescent Conspiracy Beliefs Questionnaire (ACBQ) – Secret Daily

  2. what about belief in Santa Claus and other omnipotent beings that includes inverted systems such as atheism? is it accidentally or deliberately spread among young people? What is cut off age for such beliefs? How is it different from beliefs in Jesus, Mohammad, Moses and other light bringers standing like an intermediary between them and god? You know they are messengers bringing you the light which is enveloped, packed and packaged by using your darkness. How is it different from message of light brought to the dark people by this blog post? What is interesting that they try to imply that they are walking in the same shoes as the blind and blinded proles of the kingdom of the blind. They want you to believe that they wouldn’t see anything wrong with you until they shine a light on you by performing questionnaire on you.

  3. g888 says:

    U.S. Constitution – Section 5. Organization – Proceedings – Adjournment {3} Each house shall keep a journal of its proceedings, and from time to time publish the same, excepting such parts as may in their judgement require secrecy; and the yeas and nays of the members of either house on any question shall, at the desire of one-fifth of those present, be entered into the journal.

  4. Pingback: Introducing the Adolescent Conspiracy Beliefs Questionnaire (ACBQ) - Conspir Act

  5. Pingback: Introducing the Adolescent Conspiracy Beliefs Questionnaire (ACBQ) –

  6. Marie says:

    I enjooyed reading your post

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