Experimental affective approach to Understand the psychological mechanisms underlying conspiracy and paranormal beliefs

Auteur Mickaël NUROCK
Directeur /trice Pr. Christine Mohr
Co-directeur(s) /trice(s)
Résumé de la thèse

People are prone to believe in many unfounded ideas, with conspiracy beliefs being increasingly at center stage due to their ongoing polarizing political implications (COVID, US election fraud). In the psychological literature, these beliefs are frequently linked to other irrational beliefs such as those in the paranormal or superstitions. Moreover, previous studies, mostly of correlational nature, pointed to many related interindividual differences and cognitive biases. Yet, none of these studies proposes psychological mechanisms that could explain why an individual might become more strongly attracted to conspiracy or other

irrational beliefs. We here suggest testing for the causal effects of surprise, confusion and curiosity on conspiracist thinking and paranormal beliefs when healthy individuals are exposed to unexplainable events. Indeed, the previous literature suggests that personal feelings of uncertainty play a key role in our strategy of handling information. Hence, the emotional state of surprise, a signal of unexpecting, will be tested at different levels of intensity (High vs. Low). Finally, a distinction between paranormal and conspiracies beliefs is expected to be found by testing their respective relation with different states of confusion (Confrustration vs Awe). The outcomes of this project will yield insight into affective components of irrational beliefs and will ultimately provide a better understanding of how irrational beliefs can be mitigated.

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Délai administratif de soutenance de thèse Prévu Juin 2026