Measuring Belief in Conspiracy Theories: The Generic Conspiracist Beliefs Scale

Brotherton, Robert; French, Christopher C. and Pickering, Alan. 2013. Measuring Belief in Conspiracy Theories: The Generic Conspiracist Beliefs Scale. Frontiers in Psychology, 4, 279. ISSN 1664-1078 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

The psychology of conspiracy theory beliefs is not yet well understood, although research indicates that there are stable individual differences in conspiracist ideation – individuals’ general tendency to engage with conspiracy theories. Researchers have created several short self-report measures of conspiracist ideation. These measures largely consist of items referring to an assortment of prominent conspiracy theories regarding specific real-world events. However, these instruments have not been psychometrically validated, and this assessment approach suffers from practical and theoretical limitations. Therefore, we present the Generic Conspiracist Beliefs (GCB) scale: a novel measure of individual differences in generic conspiracist ideation. The scale was developed and validated across four studies. In Study 1, exploratory factor analysis of a novel 75-item measure of non-event-based conspiracist beliefs identified five conspiracist facets. The 15-item GCB scale was developed to sample from each of these themes. Studies 2, 3, and 4 examined the structure and validity of the GCB, demonstrating internal reliability, content, criterion-related, convergent and discriminant validity, and good test-retest reliability. In sum, this research indicates that the GCB is a psychometrically sound and practically useful measure of conspiracist ideation, and the findings add to our theoretical understanding of conspiracist ideation as a monological belief system unpinned by a relatively small number of generic assumptions about the typicality of conspiratorial activity in the world.

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conspiracy theories, conspiracist ideation, individual differences, personality, psychometric instrument, scale design

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21 May 2013Published
1 May 2013Accepted

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Date Deposited:

14 Jun 2013 07:12

Last Modified:

03 Aug 2021 15:05

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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