Investigating the Links Between Cultural Values and Belief in Conspiracy Theories: The Key Roles of Collectivism and Masculinity

Jais Adam-Troian*, Pascal Wagner-Egger, Matt Motyl, Thomas Arciszewski, Roland Imhoff, Felix Zimmer, Olivier Klein, Maria Babinska, Adrian Bangerter, Michal Bilewicz, Nebojša Blanuša, Kosta Bovan, Rumena Bužarovska, Aleksandra Cichocka, Elif Çelebi, Sylvain Delouvée, Karen M. Douglas, Asbjørn Dyrendal, Biljana Gjoneska, Sylvie GrafEstrella Gualda, Gilad Hirschberger, Anna Kende, Peter Krekó, Andre Krouwel, Pia Lamberty, Silvia Mari, Jasna Milosevic, Maria Serena Panasiti, Myrto Pantazi, Ljupcho Petkovski, Giuseppina Porciello, J. P. Prims, André Rabelo, Michael Schepisi, Robbie M. Sutton, Viren Swami, Hulda Thórisdóttir, Vladimir Turjačanin, Iris Žeželj, Jan Willem van Prooijen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Citations (Scopus)


Research suggests that belief in conspiracy theories (CT) stems from basic psychological mechanisms and is linked to other belief systems (e.g., religious beliefs). While previous research has extensively examined individual and contextual variables associated with CT beliefs, it has not yet investigated the role of culture. In the current research, we tested, based on a situated cultural cognition perspective, the extent to which culture predicts CT beliefs. Using Hofstede's model of cultural values, three nation-level analyses of data from 25, 19, and 18 countries using different measures of CT beliefs (Study 1, N = 5323; Study 2a, N = 12,255; Study 2b, N = 30,994) revealed positive associations between masculinity, collectivism, and CT beliefs. A cross-sectional study among U.S. citizens (Study 3, N = 350), using individual-level measures of Hofstede's values, replicated these findings. A meta-analysis of correlations across studies corroborated the presence of positive links between CT beliefs, collectivism, r =.31, 95% CI = [.15;.47], and masculinity, r =.39, 95% CI = [.18;.59]. Our results suggest that in addition to individual differences and contextual variables, cultural factors also play an important role in shaping CT beliefs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)597-618
Number of pages22
JournalPolitical Psychology
Issue number4
Early online date5 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021


  • collectivism
  • conspiracist beliefs
  • cross-cultural
  • cultural values
  • masculinity
  • situated cognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Philosophy
  • Political Science and International Relations


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