Psychology Educator Explains Why People Fall For Conspiracy Theories

Conspiracy theories aren’t exactly new, but until recently, you may not have known anyone who believed a conspiracy theory. While we don’t know any flat Earthers, we do know people who have pretty wild ideas about how the pandemic started, whether or not Covid is real and whether or not the vaccine is safe.

It can be baffling to see people who seem perfectly logical fall for a conspiracy theory, but there are actually quite logical reasons that this happens. Psychology educator David Hundsness decided to break down what exactly causes people to fall for conspiracy theories and how to successfully convince them of the truth.

Hundsness, who goes by PetEarthling on TikTok, did a series of videos where he explained that there are actually four reasons people choose to believe conspiracies. These include a lack of information, anxiety, wanting to believe what your in-group believes, and most importantly, ego. In his first video, he explains what the first three reasons mean, but he made a follow-up video just to talk about ego because ego is that important. Watch his video about ego below.

@petearthlingEgo is mainly why people fall for conspiracy theories. 🤦‍♂️👑 ##psychology ##covid19 ##vaccine ##biglie♬ original sound – David Hundsness

In the third and final video in the series, Hundsness clarifies what would have to happen in order to talk someone out of a conspiracy theory. Ideally, the person who explains the truth would have to be part of the conspiracy theorist’s in-group, and it would have to be done in such a way as not to hurt the conspiracy theorist’s ego. After the person realizes the truth, ideally the fact that they didn’t believe the truth at one time would never be mentioned again so they wouldn’t feel bad that they once believed a lie.

Many people commented on Hundsness’s videos. Some praised him for clearly explaining why people fall for conspiracy theories and even added additional reasons why conspiracy theories may occur. One person wrote, “A good conspiracy is exciting and movie like, and sadly for some, that’s more entertaining than reality.”

Other comments poked holes in Hundsness’s argument. For example, one person wrote, “Ego also prevents mainstream thinkers from accepting that alternative theories MAY be true. easy to rule them out as egotistic failures in life.”

What do you think of Hundsness’s thoughts about people who believe conspiracy theories? Do you think he’s right? Do you know anyone who believes a conspiracy theory?