Conspiracy Theory and Paranormal Beliefs


Drinkwater and colleagues conducted a study to see if people who believed in conspiracy theories also believed in the paranormal. In addition, they examined if having such beliefs indicated poor reality testing. For these researchers, reality testing was measured by the degree to which subjects endorsed traditional explanations for events such as the World Trade Center, JFK, and other popular mysteries.


Their results showed a small relationship between people who both believe in the paranormal and endorse conspiracy theories and a reduced degree of reality testing. However, it is worth noting that their measure of reality testing may be problematic. A closer examination of the measure shows that reality-testing questions actually appeared to endorse the degree to which a person agrees with culturally endorsed or popular explanations.


Although we rarely comment on research here at Paranormal Facts, we would like to emphasize to the reader that a large body of research supports the idea that cultural truths often become true as a function of popularity or belief, not necessarily evidence or facts. Thus, this particular reality-testing measure would represent more of an endorsement of culturally popular or government-endorsed explanations for mysteries than it would reality or facts. 



Drinkwater, K., Dagnell, N., & Parker, A. (2012). Reality testing, conspiracy theories, and paranormal belief. Journal of Parapsychology, 76, 57-78.

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