Belief in conspiracy theories makes people more likely to engage in low-level crime

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.

Professor Karen Douglas and Dr Ana Leite were part of a team of four researchers from the University of Kent and Staffordshire University to show 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.

Two studies showed that firstly, people who believed in conspiracy theories were more accepting of everyday crime and secondly, exposure to conspiracy theories made people more likely to intend to engage in everyday crime in the future.

Professor Douglas said: ‘Our research has shown for the first time the role that conspiracy theories can play in determining an individual’s attitude to everyday crime. It demonstrates that people subscribing to the view that others have conspired might be more inclined toward unethical actions.’

Read the full news story on the Kent News Centre here.

The research, entitled Belief in conspiracy theories and intentions to engage in everyday crime (Daniel Jolley and Tanya Schrader, Staffordshire University; Karen Douglas and Ana Leite, University of Kent) is published in the British Journal of Social Psychology.