Document Type

Senior Thesis

Publication Date



Urban legends and conspiracy theories have been a cornerstone of American culture for many years, and these stories and theories have permeated into many aspects of society, from tourism to pop culture, but how have these stories and theories affected politics? Conspiracy theories and urban legends all revolve around the distrust of institutions, ranging from governments to the media, but there is very little research to indicate how beliefs in these types of phenomena affect political self-identification, and fear in real-world disasters. This paper seeks to answer the following: How do paranormal and abnormal beliefs influence political identification? And how do these beliefs influence one’s fear into “real-world” events like natural disasters and terrorism? While prominent scholars like Sunstein note the causes and solutions of conspiracy theories while noting the damage they can cause to a society, there is little work done to see what types of voters these people are, this is something this paper aims to find. This paper hypothesizes that beliefs in paranormal phenomena will lead to equal amounts of respondents identifying as democrats and republicans and these beliefs in paranormal phenomena correlate with respondents feeling more fearful when it comes to real-world threats. Using the Chapman Survey of American fears, this paper will analyze data involving beliefs in paranormal phenomena like bigfoot and aliens, beliefs that government is covering up the truth about certain events, along with respondent’s political ideology and fear in real world events. It is expected that the results will match the hypotheses stated above, showing that even in an era of great partisanship, fear of the unknown and unexplained is a bipartisan affair.


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