Increased conspiracy beliefs among ethnic and Muslim minorities

Jan Willem van Prooijen*, Jaap Staman, André P.M. Krouwel

*Corresponding author for this work

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In the present study, we tested whether Muslim minority members are more susceptible to conspiracy theories than majority members in the Netherlands. We examined conspiracy theories that are relevant (portraying the Muslim community as victim or Jewish people as perpetrators) and irrelevant for participants' Muslim identity (about the 2007 financial crisis, and other theories such as that the moon landings were fake). Results revealed that Muslims believed both identity-relevant and irrelevant conspiracy theories more strongly than non-Muslims. These differences could not be attributed to the contents of Muslim faith: Ethnic minority status exerted similar effects independent of Muslim identity. Instead, evidence suggested that feelings of both personal and group-based deprivation independently contribute to belief in conspiracy theories. We conclude that feelings of deprivation lead marginalized minority members to perceive the social and political system as rigged, stimulating belief in both identity-relevant and irrelevant conspiracy theories.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)661-667
Number of pages7
JournalApplied Cognitive Psychology
Issue number5
Early online date23 Jul 2018
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2018


  • conspiracy theories
  • deprivation
  • minority groups
  • Muslim identity


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