YANSS 198 – The psychological mechanisms that led to the the storming of the Capitol, an event that sprang from a widespread belief in a conspiracy theory that, even today, still persists among millions

Since 2016, psychologist Gordon Pennycook and his colleagues have consistently found that a lack of cognitive reflection is more correlated with believing and sharing fake news and conspiracy theories –  false information spread through Facebook, and espoused by the president himself – than any other psychological phenomenon.

In this episode we explore how, why, and what can be done about it after taking a deep dive into some shocking statistics. 

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According to VOX: “In a survey fielded in the days after a group of President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the US Capitol (January 8 to 11), 72 percent of likely Republican voters said they continue to question the presidential election results. Nearly three-quarters of Republicans, or 74 percent, said allegations of voter fraud have contributed to these concerns. Those are overwhelming majorities, but even among independents, 42 percent said they do not currently trust the election results.”

Gordon Pennycook

Gordon Pennycook is an assistant professor of behavioural science at University of Regina’s Hill/Levene Schools of Business. He is a member of the editorial board for Thinking & Reasoning and a consulting editor for Judgment and Decision Making. He studies misinformation any how is spreads through the modern information ecosystem.

Gordon Pennycook’s Twitter

Links and Sources

Download – iTunes – Stitcher – RSS – Spotify – Patreon –  SoundcloudOmnyAudibleAmazon

Previous Episodes

Gordon Pennycook’s Website

Gordon Pennycook’s Twitter

Examining false beliefs about voter fraud in the wake of the 2020 Presidential Election

How a Crisis Researcher Makes Sense of Covid-19 Misinformation

Lazy, Not Biased: Susceptibility to Partisan Fake News Is Better Explained by Lack of Reasoning Than by Motivated Reasoning

Transcript of an interview with Steven Novella

About half of Republicans don’t think Joe Biden should be sworn in as president

Which Republicans are most likely to think the election was stolen? Those who dislike Democrats and don’t mind white nationalists.

Meta-Analysis of Psychological Research on Conspiracy Beliefs

American Conspiracy Theories