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Research Themes and Scholarly Interests

In my research, I take a unique experimental approach to studying the social-psychological consequences of conspiracy theories.

Millions of people from across the globe believe in conspiracy theories that explain events as the result of secret, deliberate actions and cover-ups at the hands of powerful and malevolent groups. In the UK, a YouGov Poll has recently shown that 60% of Britons believe in conspiracy theories. My research to date demonstrates that exposure to conspiracy theories may be an important source of disengagement with politics and a lack of concern about the environment (BJP, 2014), and a potential obstacle to child vaccination uptake (PLoSONE, 2014). I have also demonstrated that conspiracy theories may divert attention from inherent limitations of social systems which may reduce, rather than increase, the likelihood of social and political change (Political Psychology, 2018). I have sought to test social psychological techniques to attenuate the impact of anti-vaccine conspiracy theories and found that once a conspiracy theory has taken root, it can be resistant to correction (JASP, 2017). To date, my publications have been cited over 1,000 times (Google Scholar, Jan '21) and I have received grant funding from organizations such as the British Academy.

My research continues to explore important issues, such as examining the causal link between conspiracy theories, prejudice, and discrimination (BJP, 2020), further understanding the link between conspiracy beliefs and violent reactions (BJSP, 2020), and whether the belief that powerful others have conspired may make people more inclined towards unethical actions (BJSP, 2019). The former paper, for example, has demonstrated for the first time that intergroup conspiracy can directly increase prejudice and discrimination. Perhaps most importantly, we also demonstrate how the prejudice-enhancing effects of intergroup conspiracy theories are not limited to the group targeted by the conspiracy but can spread to other, uninvolved groups. These issues are therefore not just highly topical, but of great significance for society.

Daniel and his colleagues have also recently developed and validated a conspiracy theory measure suitable for younger populations (BJDP, 2021). You can find more information on the Adolescent Conspiracy Beliefs Questionnaire (ACBQ) here.


Want to learn more about the psychology of conspiracy theories?

Daniel has written for the Conversation on the psychology of conspiracy theories (> 460,000 reads) and blogs at He also gives regular public talks, alongside appearing on TV, radio, print/digital media, and podcasts. You can watch some clips under the "Media" tab on his website ( You can also follow Daniel's updates on Twitter. 

Key Publications

  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • Measuring adolescents’ beliefs in conspiracy theories: Development and validation of the Adolescent Conspiracy Beliefs Questionnaire (ACBQ), Jolley, D., Douglas, K., Skipper, Y., Thomas, E., Cookson, D. 1 Sep 2021, In: British Journal of Developmental Psychology
  • Consequences of conspiracy theories. Written evidence submitted to Home Affairs Committee on Home Office preparedness for Covid-19 (Coronavirus) Inquiry (COR0158)., Jolley, D., Douglas, K., Mari, S. 3 Jun 2020
  • Pylons ablaze: Examining the role of 5G COVID-19 conspiracy beliefs and support for violence, Jolley, D., Paterson, J. 1 Jul 2020, In: British Journal of Social Psychology
  • Looking out for myself: Exploring the relationship between conspiracy mentality, perceived personal risk, and COVID-19 prevention measures, Marinthe, G., Brown, G., Delouvée, S., Jolley, D. 1 Nov 2020, In: British Journal of Health Psychology
  • Exposure to intergroup conspiracy theories promotes prejudice which spreads across groups, Jolley, D., Meleady, R., Douglas, K. 1 Feb 2020, In: British Journal of Psychology
  • Belief in conspiracy theories and intentions to engage in everyday crime, Jolley, D., Douglas, K., Leite, A., Schrader, T. 1 Jul 2019, In: British Journal of Social Psychology
  • Blaming a Few Bad Apples to Save a Threatened Barrel: The System-Justifying Function of Conspiracy Theories, Jolley, D., Douglas, K., Sutton, R. 1 Apr 2018, In: Political Psychology
  • Prevention is better than cure: Addressing anti-vaccine conspiracy theories, Jolley, D., Douglas, K. 1 Aug 2017, In: Journal of Applied Social Psychology
  • The Effects of Anti-Vaccine Conspiracy Theories on Vaccination Intentions, Jolley, D., Douglas, K. 20 Feb 2014, In: PLoS One
  • The social consequences of conspiracism: Exposure to conspiracy theories decreases intentions to engage in politics and to reduce one's carbon footprint, Jolley, D., Douglas, K. 1 Feb 2014, In: British Journal of Psychology

PGR Supervision

Anna Maughan Understanding the role of emotions, belief in medical conspiracy theories and health-related behaviours Start Date: 18/01/2020


  • Psychology PhD July 16 2015
  • Psychology MSc July 16 2011
  • Psychology BSc (Hons) July 16 2010
  • Chartered Psychologist (CPsychol) British Psychological Society (BPS)
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) FHEA

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