People differ in their general tendency to endorse conspiracy theories (that is, conspiracy mentality). Previous research yielded inconsistent findings on the relationship between conspiracy mentality and political orientation, showing a greater conspiracy mentality either among the political right (a linear relation) or amongst both the left and right extremes (a curvilinear relation). We revisited this relationship across two studies spanning 26 countries (combined N = 104,253) and found overall evidence for both linear and quadratic relations, albeit small and heterogeneous across countries. We also observed stronger support for conspiracy mentality among voters of opposition parties (that is, those deprived of political control). Nonetheless, the quadratic effect of political orientation remained significant when adjusting for political control deprivation. We conclude that conspiracy mentality is associated with extreme left- and especially extreme right-wing beliefs, and that this non-linear relation may be strengthened by, but is not reducible to, deprivation of political control.
This work has been coordinated, presented and discussed within the framework of EU COST Action CA15101 ‘Comparative Analysis of Conspiracy Theories (COMPACT)’. German data stem from the 2014 Innovation Sample of the Socio-Economic Panel83 (SOEP). Data from the Andalusian survey conducted in Spain come from the research project ‘Conspiracy Theories and Disinformation’ directed by Estrella Gualda (University of Huelva, Spain), whose fieldwork was supported and executed by the Institute of Advanced Social Studies (IESA-CSIC) in the context of a grant received for executing the 5th Wave of the Citizen’s Panel Survey for Social Research in Andalusia (ref. EP-1707, PIE 201710E018, IESA/CSIC, https://panelpacis.net/; E.G.). The Czech part of the study was supported by grant 20-01214S (S.G.) from the Czech Science Foundation and by RVO: 68081740 (S.G.) of the Institute of Psychology, Czech Academy of Sciences. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish or preparation of the manuscript.
© 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Limited.