Student Scholar Symposium Abstracts and Posters

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 12-1-2021

Faculty Advisor(s)

Dr. Ann Gordon


Many people have used conspiracy theories as explanations to justify situations or events that the United States Government has carried out; however, many have no reliable evidence. These theories are often made by power groups that are usually politically motivated. So why do people 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 into the various variables that play leading factors in why people are influenced into believing conspiracy theories. Also, whether one conspiracy theory is more believed than another. This paper will be exploring four different conspiracy theories, the 9/11 attacks, John F. Kennedy’s assassination, the South Dakota Crash, and lastly, the recent conspiracy theory known as Qanon. In addition, whether the variables, age, fear of corrupt government officials, social media usage, region, education, race, and the fear of being unemployed impact one’s belief in these theories. To my knowledge, many people believe in conspiracy theories ranging from the elderly to the young; however, more recently, through outlets like social media, 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 understand better why people continue to believe in such theories. Ultimately, this paper will discuss four hypotheses; those who are Black and Hispanic and from southern regions of the U.S are more susceptible to believing these theories, those who are younger and less educated are more likely to believe in conspiracy theories, those who obtain their news information through social media are more likely to believe in conspiracy theories, and lastly, people are more likely to believe in conspiracy theories because of their fear of corrupt government officials and one’s fear of unemployment.


Presented at the virtual Fall 2021 Student Scholar Symposium at Chapman University.