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Conspiracy suspicions as a proxy for beliefs in conspiracy theories: Implications for theory and measurement.
Br J Psychol 2017; 108(3):507-527BJ

Abstract

Research on the psychology of conspiracy theories has shown recent steps towards a standardization of measures. The present article seeks to continue that trend by presenting the Flexible Inventory of Conspiracy Suspicions (FICS), a questionnaire template that can be adapted to measure suspicions of a conspiracy around nearly any topic of public interest. Compared to conspiracy belief measures that ask about specific theories on a given topic, the FICS is worded in such a way as to provide relatively stable validity across time and cultural context. Using a hybrid approach incorporating classical test theory and Rasch scaling, three questionnaire studies on Mechanical Turk demonstrate the validity of the FICS in measuring conspiracy suspicions regarding 9/11, vaccine safety, and US elections, with good psychometric properties in most situations. However, the utility of the FICS is limited in the case of climate change due to the existence of two opposing conspiracy theories that share essentially no common assumptions ('climate change is a hoax' vs. 'there is a conspiracy to make people believe that climate change is a hoax'). The results indicate that the FICS is a reliable and valid measure of conspiracy suspicions within certain parameters, and suggest a three-level model that differentiates general conspiracist ideation, relatively vague conspiracy suspicions, and relatively specific conspiracy beliefs.

Authors+Show Affiliations

University of Winchester, UK.

Pub Type(s)

Journal Article

Language

eng

PubMed ID

28677916

Citation

Wood, Michael J.. "Conspiracy Suspicions as a Proxy for Beliefs in Conspiracy Theories: Implications for Theory and Measurement." British Journal of Psychology (London, England : 1953), vol. 108, no. 3, 2017, pp. 507-527.
Wood MJ. Conspiracy suspicions as a proxy for beliefs in conspiracy theories: Implications for theory and measurement. Br J Psychol. 2017;108(3):507-527.
Wood, M. J. (2017). Conspiracy suspicions as a proxy for beliefs in conspiracy theories: Implications for theory and measurement. British Journal of Psychology (London, England : 1953), 108(3), pp. 507-527. doi:10.1111/bjop.12231.
Wood MJ. Conspiracy Suspicions as a Proxy for Beliefs in Conspiracy Theories: Implications for Theory and Measurement. Br J Psychol. 2017;108(3):507-527. PubMed PMID: 28677916.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - JOUR T1 - Conspiracy suspicions as a proxy for beliefs in conspiracy theories: Implications for theory and measurement. A1 - Wood,Michael J, Y1 - 2016/11/07/ PY - 2016/02/10/received PY - 2016/10/14/revised PY - 2017/7/6/entrez PY - 2017/7/6/pubmed PY - 2018/6/30/medline KW - conspiracy theories KW - measurement KW - suspicion SP - 507 EP - 527 JF - British journal of psychology (London, England : 1953) JO - Br J Psychol VL - 108 IS - 3 N2 - Research on the psychology of conspiracy theories has shown recent steps towards a standardization of measures. The present article seeks to continue that trend by presenting the Flexible Inventory of Conspiracy Suspicions (FICS), a questionnaire template that can be adapted to measure suspicions of a conspiracy around nearly any topic of public interest. Compared to conspiracy belief measures that ask about specific theories on a given topic, the FICS is worded in such a way as to provide relatively stable validity across time and cultural context. Using a hybrid approach incorporating classical test theory and Rasch scaling, three questionnaire studies on Mechanical Turk demonstrate the validity of the FICS in measuring conspiracy suspicions regarding 9/11, vaccine safety, and US elections, with good psychometric properties in most situations. However, the utility of the FICS is limited in the case of climate change due to the existence of two opposing conspiracy theories that share essentially no common assumptions ('climate change is a hoax' vs. 'there is a conspiracy to make people believe that climate change is a hoax'). The results indicate that the FICS is a reliable and valid measure of conspiracy suspicions within certain parameters, and suggest a three-level model that differentiates general conspiracist ideation, relatively vague conspiracy suspicions, and relatively specific conspiracy beliefs. SN - 2044-8295 UR - https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/28677916/Conspiracy_suspicions_as_a_proxy_for_beliefs_in_conspiracy_theories:_Implications_for_theory_and_measurement_ L2 - https://doi.org/10.1111/bjop.12231 DB - PRIME DP - Unbound Medicine ER -