Explanation Hubris and Conspiracy Theories: A Case of the 2016 Presidential Election

AbstractWhile explanations provide the power to understand the world around us, people are often overconfident about their own understanding. We explored how people’s perceptions of their understanding of phenomena is related to endorsement of conspiracy theories. We first tested people’s perceptions of their understanding of the 2016 Presidential electoral process and then measured their beliefs that the election itself was illegitimate, a form of conspiratorial belief. We found that participants who still endorsed high levels of understanding after generating an explanation for the 2016 election were also more likely to endorse the election was illegitimate. However, this finding only obtained for participants who voted for the losing candidate. These results suggest interesting avenues for exploring individual differences that may be related to the illusion of explanatory depth.

Return to previous page