Empowerment as a tool to reduce belief in conspiracy theories

Jan Willem Van Prooijen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book / Report / Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review

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Conspiracy theories can be harmful for public health, global warming, safety, conflict, and political polarization. What interventions help reduce the appeal of conspiracy theories? It is well-known that conspiracy theories flourish among citizens who feel powerless and out of control, however I argue that the opposite is also true: that feeling empowered and in control of one’s social environment reduces belief in conspiracy theories. Given this, authorities can reduce conspiracy beliefs among the public by installing procedural justice principles in decision-making processes. Procedural justice increases feelings of empowerment and trust, even among followers who disagree with the decision outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationConspiracy Theories and the People Who Believe them
EditorsJoseph E. Uscinski
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9780190909611
ISBN (Print)9780190844073
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Conspiracy theories
  • Control
  • Decision-making
  • Empowerment
  • Interventions
  • Negative emotions
  • Procedural justice
  • Rationality


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