Conspiracy Theorists Can Change Their Minds, Study Shows

Conspiracy Theorists Can Change Their Minds, Study Shows

Despite common belief, people who subscribe to conspiracy theories aren't necessarily locked into these beliefs forever. A new study reveals an interesting finding: individuals are more likely to maintain stable opinions rather than drastically changing their minds about conspiracy theories.

The Study:

Researchers surveyed 498 Australians and New Zealanders over six months, presenting them with ten ongoing or recent conspiracy theories (e.g., chemtrails, microchips in vaccines). Participants rated their agreement with each theory monthly.

Key Findings:

    • No widespread increase: Contrary to concerns about an "infodemic," individual belief in conspiracy theories generally did not increase during the study period, even amidst the turbulent COVID-19 pandemic.
    • Belief stability: Most participants held stable views, either consistently rejecting or believing in conspiracies. Converts (initially disagreeing, then agreeing) and apostates (initially agreeing, then disagreeing) were a smaller minority.
    • Debunking not always futile: Though some argue conspiracy theories are "unfalsifiable," the study suggests some individuals do change their minds in response to evidence or other factors.

What it Means:

This research challenges the "rabbit hole" narrative, where people quickly fall deeper into conspiracy beliefs. While belief changes do occur, they seem less dramatic than imagined. Additionally, the findings offer hope for interventions that address misinformation by providing evidence and encouraging critical thinking.


    • Individual attitudes towards conspiracy theories vary greatly.
    • While belief stability is common, some individuals do change their minds.
    • Further research is needed to understand the factors influencing these changes.

This study provides valuable insights into the dynamics of conspiracy theory belief, highlighting the possibility of influencing individual opinions through well-reasoned approaches.


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