Did aliens abduct MH370? An investigation of the construal mediated effects of causal uncertainty on individuals’ endorsement of conspiracy theories

Mac, Jefferson (2014). Did aliens abduct MH370? An investigation of the construal mediated effects of causal uncertainty on individuals’ endorsement of conspiracy theories Honours Thesis, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland.

       
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Author Mac, Jefferson
Thesis Title Did aliens abduct MH370? An investigation of the construal mediated effects of causal uncertainty on individuals’ endorsement of conspiracy theories
School, Centre or Institute School of Psychology
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2014-10-08
Thesis type Honours Thesis
Supervisor Stephanie Tobin
Total pages 78
Language eng
Subjects 1701 Psychology
Abstract/Summary The purpose of this thesis was to examine whether temporarily activated causal uncertainty would predict a stronger preference for construing a real-life plane disappearance more abstractly, which would then predict stronger endorsement of conspiracy theories. 232 first year psychology students and Amazon Mechanical Turk workers were randomly assigned to complete a high or low causal uncertainty priming task, and randomly assigned to read a temporally distal or proximal plane disappearance scenario. They then selected from three pairs of abstract or concrete descriptions of the event, and rated the plausibility of three conspiracy theories relating to the plane disappearances. It was hypothesised that the proximal scenario would be construed more abstractly by causal uncertainty primed participants, which would then lead to stronger endorsement of conspiracy theories, whereas the proximal scenario would be construed less abstractly by low causal uncertainty primed participants, which would predict weaker endorsement of conspiracy theories. These predictions were based on past causal uncertainty and construal level theory research which showed that individuals high in causal uncertainty have a stronger preference for construing actions more abstractly, and that the abstract mindset would bring about a broader search for abstract information that could potentially be linked through a conspiracist narrative, therefore making causally uncertain individuals more susceptible to endorsing conspiracy theories. This main hypothesis was not supported, however exploratory analyses revealed that higher chronic causal uncertainty is associated with a stronger preference for abstract construals of events, which is also associated with stronger endorsement of conspiracy theories. Implications of these findings and suggestions for future research will be discussed.
Keyword Social Psychology
Conspiracy theories
Casual uncertainty

 
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Created: Thu, 28 May 2015, 15:58:40 EST by Louise Grainger on behalf of School of Psychology