Measuring belief in conspiracy theories: the generic conspiracist beliefs scale.Front Psychol 2013; 4:279FP
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.