Why People Believe Strange Things: Understanding Pseudo-Realities and Pseudo-Theories
Professor Albarracin’s theoretical framework explains how, in the face of evidence to the contrary, individuals come to believe in conspiracies and other seemingly bizarre ideas. Conspiracy theories (the belief that a powerful agent or group is responsible for and has covered up an event) provide clarity of vision and justifications for the confusions, frustrations, and insecurities of living in contemporary societies characterized by rapid social changes and profound inequality. In other words, conspiracy theories arise to explain social phenomena that are difficult to comprehend. A fundamental premise of Professor Albarracin’s model is that the misconceptions created in response to the threat are not random. She will test this model with a national probability survey conducted in the next 6 months, and will also conduct follow-up experiments. Her CAS appointment will allow her to analyze and write up this data for publication.