The Language of Conspiracies
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Theories of conspiracy belief assert that people believe conspiracy theories to cope with anxiety-provoking events. To date, evidence for a link between conspiracy belief and anxiety is mixed. The current study examined the link between conspiracy belief and anxiety. More specifically, it tested to see whether conspiracy belief reduces or increases anxiety, by testing if anxiety changed from baseline after exposure to a conspiracy theory, for people who believed conspiracy theories. Conspiracy belief reduced anxiety in the presence of a conspiracy theory, but did not affect anxiety in the absence of a conspiracy theory. These findings suggest that, consistent with some theories of conspiracy belief, conspiracy belief may reduce self-reported anxiety about threatening events, but only in the presence of conspiracy theories.