Student Scholar Symposium Abstracts and Posters

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 5-2019

Faculty Advisor(s)

Dr. Ann Gordon


Why do many Americans believe in conspiracy theories? One answer could be the lack of trust and transparency between many American citizens and the United States government. Conspiracy theories have been used throughout history as an explanation for events and situations that were carried out by the government without any credible evidence. That said, what factors influence one to believe in them? Using Chapman University Survey of American Fears, this paper assesses the two most believed conspiracy theories in America, John F. Kennedy’s assassination and the 9/11 attacks and whether the factors of partisanship, fear of financial uncertainty, education, age and the media are impact one’s belief in conspiracy theories. Linear regression results found partisanship has no influence on either of the two conspiracy theories tested whereas the other factors do impact one’s belief for conspiracy theories. The most salient result emerges when comparing the influential factors of the two conspiracy theories used. Belief in both conspiracy theories was influenced by fear of uncertainty, education, age, and social media. Although, education and age are both influential for the belief in conspiracy theories, the magnitude of the factors were significantly different. This implies the factors’ magnitude of influence varies among theories.


Presented at the Spring 2019 Student Scholar Symposium at Chapman University.