Student Scholar Symposium Abstracts and Posters

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 12-4-2019

Faculty Advisor(s)

Dr. Ann Gordon


Conspiracy theories have been used by many Americans throughout history as explanations to justify situations and events that the United States Government has carried out, however, many have no reliable evidence. The claims of these theories range from violent to completely harmless and some are categorized as strange phenomena. So why do Americans believe in conspiracy theories? One reason may be our lack of confidence, trust, and transparency between our government and us as American citizens. Using the Chapman University Survey of American Fears, I will look more closely into the various variables that play leading roles as to why people are so convinced by conspiracy theories, also, whether one conspiracy theory is more believed than another. That said, I will also look at these variables: fear of corrupt government officials, social media, and education. This paper will be exploring three different conspiracy theories, first, the belief that the government planned the 9/11 attacks, second the theory that the United States concealed the truth about JFK’s assassination, and lastly the made-up South Dakota Crash. To my knowledge, there are many people that believe in conspiracy theories ranging from the elderly to the young, however, more recently, there has been a shift in those who believe in conspiracy theories. If the research shows a relationship between the predictors of conspiracy beliefs, it will allow me to better understand why people believe in such theories. Lastly, this paper will discuss three hypotheses; those who are less educated are more likely to believe in conspiracy theories, those who rely on social media to get their information are more likely to believe in conspiracy theories and, those who believe in the fake South Dakota crash are more likely to believe in this theory because of the default lack of trust in our government.


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