Once they have reached public awareness, unfounded conspiracy allegations may be a powerful source of influence, swaying people's attitudes, intentions, and behaviors, with potentially damaging consequences not only for individuals, but also for the broader society. In the case of vaccination, it only takes a small number of refusals to compromise herd immunity and see the return of diseases long thought to have been eliminated. In this chapter, we explore the potential consequences of conspiracy theories such as this in some detail, focusing on the potential effects of social, political, and health-related conspiracy theories on people's attitudes, intentions, and behaviors. We then outline the existing research in this area and outline some suggestions that have been made by scholars for dealing with the influence of conspiracy theories. Finally, we make some suggestions for future research.
|Title of host publication
|The Psychology of Conspiracy
|M Bilewicz, A Cichocka, W Soral
|Place of Publication
|Taylor & Francis
|Number of pages
|E-pub ahead of print - 15 May 2015