First Advisor

Holley Tankersley


Conspiracy theories have increasing relevance in American politics. In the age of the internet, where rumors and their associated conspiracy theories are transmitted and received at much higher frequencies than was previously capable, people can be led to believe in ideas that erode their trust in government and its decision makers. This undermines America's capacity for self-governance. In this proposal, I articulate a model that fully explains conspiracist thinking in the context of American politics. I suggest that two domains—partisan attachment and underlying conspiracist predispositions—determine whether an individual will accept or reject a conspiracy theory. To measure the effects of these two domains on opinion formation, I propose a cross-sectional analysis that incorporates two separate survey instruments. However, due to time limitations, the scope of this paper is confined to a research proposal; I do not collect any data to support my hypotheses.



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