DataSheet_1_Thinking Preferences and Conspiracy Belief: Intuitive Thinking and the Jumping to Conclusions-Bias as a Basis for the Belief in Conspiracy Theories.pdf
The belief in conspiracy theories and paranoid ideation are often treated as almost synonymous. However, there is to date no research concerning shared underlying cognitive underpinnings of belief in conspiracy theories and paranoid ideation. One potential underlying factor could be the well-known jumping to conclusion (JTC) bias, the tendency of persons with delusions to perform hasty decisions that are sometimes based on little evidence. Furthermore, a preference for a more intuitive general thinking style, as opposed to an analytical thinking style, could be an additional underlying cognitive factor of both conspiracy theories and paranoia. Thus, the aim of the present study is to investigate in a large sample of non-clinical individuals whether the JTC-bias is more pronounced in individuals who display a stronger belief in conspiracy theories and whether both are related to a more intuitive thinking preference.Methods
We assessed the data of 519 non-clinical individuals regarding their respective approval of 20 specific conspiracy theories in an online study. Further, we assessed the JTC-bias by using a computerized variant of the beads task (fish task). Thinking preferences were measured with the Rational-Experiential Interview.Results
Subjects who displayed the JTC-bias presented a more pronounced belief in conspiracy theories. In addition, gathering little information in the fish task before performing a decision (less draws to decision) was related to a stronger endorsement of conspiracy theories and a more intuitive thinking style (and a less analytic thinking style). Finally, a preference for intuitive thinking predicted a stronger belief in conspiracy theories in a multiple regression analysis.Conclusions
Our results demonstrate the implication of a preference for an intuitive thinking style accompanied by a propensity to faster decision-making (JTC-bias) as possible cognitive underpinnings of beliefs in conspiracy theories. Furthermore, our study is the first to confirm the notion of the JTC-bias as a reflection of the use of an intuitive thinking style.
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