According to a new study published in the journal Political Psychology, people who believe in conspiracy theories are usually also religious, mainly because conspiracy mongering and religious beliefs have cognitive similarities, PsyPost reports.
“Several similarities have been noted between religiosity and conspiracy theory beliefs: Both suggest that there is more in the world than is visible, both promise to address similar needs like to understand the world, and both tend to speak to similar political orientations. But it was unclear what these parallels mean empirically for their relation. They could either serve as surrogates or as complements for each other,” said study author Marius Frenken, a doctoral research assistant at the Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz.
Scholars have noted the similarities between religion and features of conspiracy theories, but the nature of this overlap is uncertain. Some researchers have suggested that the two beliefs fulfill similar psychological needs, such as morality, belonging, and sense of control. Others suggest that the beliefs share cognitive styles, with both alluding to invisible forces at play and offering “anomalies as explanatory starting points.”
Frenken and colleagues were motivated to consider which of these theories is most accurate, by exploring the correlation between belief in conspiracies and religiosity. If the two ideologies fulfill similar needs, a negative correlation should be found, since people would be expected to endorse one or the other. But if religiosity and conspiracy belief share cognitive features, a positive correlation should be found, since people who believe in one should be more likely to also believe in the other.
Read the full report over at PsyPost.