Conspiracy theories are sets of often erroneous beliefs that people use to explain malevolent and/ or unlawful acts that are perceived to be directed by and in favor of a small and powerful group that works in secret against a larger group of unwitting victims. This entry describes research on conspiracy theories as well as closely related phenomena. It starts by considering the association between conspiracy theories and rumors and the social functions of stereotypes. Next, it describes the research findings on conspiracy theories—when they are most likely to be conceived, the nature of the people who subscribe to conspiracy theories, and the theories' effects. The entry concludes by describing explanations for the existence of conspiracy theories and conspiratorial thinking.

Conspiracy Theories and Related Phenomena

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