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      Measuring Individual Differences in Generic Beliefs in Conspiracy Theories Across Cultures: Conspiracy Mentality Questionnaire

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          Abstract

          Conspiracy theories are ubiquitous when it comes to explaining political events and societal phenomena. Individuals differ not only in the degree to which they believe in specific conspiracy theories, but also in their general susceptibility to explanations based on such theories, that is, their conspiracy mentality. We present the Conspiracy Mentality Questionnaire (CMQ), an instrument designed to efficiently assess differences in the generic tendency to engage in conspiracist ideation within and across cultures. The CMQ is available in English, German, and Turkish. In four studies, we examined the CMQ’s factorial structure, reliability, measurement equivalence across cultures, and its convergent, discriminant, and predictive validity. Analyses based on a cross-cultural sample (Study 1a; N = 7,766) supported the conceptualization of conspiracy mentality as a one-dimensional construct across the three language versions of the CMQ that is stable across time (Study 1b; N = 141). Multi-group confirmatory factor analysis demonstrated cross-cultural measurement equivalence of the CMQ items. The instrument could therefore be used to examine differences in conspiracy mentality between European, North American, and Middle Eastern cultures. In Studies 2–4 (total N = 476), we report (re-)analyses of three datasets demonstrating the validity of the CMQ in student and working population samples in the UK and Germany. First, attesting to its convergent validity, the CMQ was highly correlated with another measure of generic conspiracy belief. Second, the CMQ showed patterns of meaningful associations with personality measures (e.g., Big Five dimensions, schizotypy), other generalized political attitudes (e.g., social dominance orientation and right-wing authoritarianism), and further individual differences (e.g., paranormal belief, lack of socio-political control). Finally, the CMQ predicted beliefs in specific conspiracy theories over and above other individual difference measures.

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          Lacking control increases illusory pattern perception.

          We present six experiments that tested whether lacking control increases illusory pattern perception, which we define as the identification of a coherent and meaningful interrelationship among a set of random or unrelated stimuli. Participants who lacked control were more likely to perceive a variety of illusory patterns, including seeing images in noise, forming illusory correlations in stock market information, perceiving conspiracies, and developing superstitions. Additionally, we demonstrated that increased pattern perception has a motivational basis by measuring the need for structure directly and showing that the causal link between lack of control and illusory pattern perception is reduced by affirming the self. Although these many disparate forms of pattern perception are typically discussed as separate phenomena, the current results suggest that there is a common motive underlying them.
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            Who Sees Human? The Stability and Importance of Individual Differences in Anthropomorphism.

            Anthropomorphism is a far-reaching phenomenon that incorporates ideas from social psychology, cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, and the neurosciences. Although commonly considered to be a relatively universal phenomenon with only limited importance in modern industrialized societies-more cute than critical-our research suggests precisely the opposite. In particular, we provide a measure of stable individual differences in anthropomorphism that predicts three important consequences for everyday life. This research demonstrates that individual differences in anthropomorphism predict the degree of moral care and concern afforded to an agent, the amount of responsibility and trust placed on an agent, and the extent to which an agent serves as a source of social influence on the self. These consequences have implications for disciplines outside of psychology including human-computer interaction, business (marketing and finance), and law. Concluding discussion addresses how understanding anthropomorphism not only informs the burgeoning study of nonpersons, but how it informs classic issues underlying person perception as well.
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              On the Use of College Students in Social Science Research: Insights from a Second-Order Meta-analysis

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Front Psychol
                Front Psychol
                Front. Psychol.
                Frontiers in Psychology
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                1664-1078
                30 April 2013
                2013
                : 4
                : 225
                Affiliations
                [1] 1Department of Psychology, Zukunftskolleg, University of Konstanz Konstanz, Germany
                [2] 2Department of Psychology, Northumbria University Newcastle, UK
                [3] 3Department of Psychology, City University London London, UK
                [4] 4Department of Psychology, University of Cologne Cologne, Germany
                Author notes

                Edited by: Christopher Charles French, Goldsmiths, University of London, UK

                Reviewed by: Jennifer L. Tackett, University of Houston, USA; Karen Douglas, University of Kent, UK

                *Correspondence: Peter Haffke, Department of Psychology, Zukunftskolleg, University of Konstanz, PO Box 216, 78457 Konstanz, Germany. e-mail: peter.haffke@ 123456uni-konstanz.de

                This article was submitted to Frontiers in Personality Science and Individual Differences, a specialty of Frontiers in Psychology.

                Article
                10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00225
                3639408
                23641227
                3e42fea0-d423-49d3-8f20-a44df0af0350
                Copyright © 2013 Bruder, Haffke, Neave, Nouripanah and Imhoff.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and subject to any copyright notices concerning any third-party graphics etc.

                History
                : 20 December 2012
                : 11 April 2013
                Page count
                Figures: 1, Tables: 4, Equations: 0, References: 60, Pages: 15, Words: 12812
                Categories
                Psychology
                Original Research

                Clinical Psychology & Psychiatry
                conspiracy theories,conspiracy mentality,generalized political attitudes,psychometric instrument,measurement equivalence,cross-cultural research

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