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date: 21 July 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Conspiracy theories have become a more prominent part of political discourse in recent years. But, social scientists are only beginning to learn about their role in political persuasion. This chapter considers some important questions regarding them: Can conspiracy theories, or a worldview shaped by conspiracy thinking, change attitudes, alter behavior, or generate collective action? Who uses conspiracy theories to persuade and for what purposes? Are such attempts successful? It first reviews what social scientists have learned about conspiracy theories and the people who believe them and then advocates for a research agenda which better situates conspiracy theories within the literature addressing political persuasion.

Keywords: conspiracy theories, conspiracy thinking, conspiracy ideation, suspicion, power, losers theory, partisanship, persuasion

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