Conspiracy theories and populism have become major topics of debate recently, with some arguing that the two are intertwined. A study conducted by researchers Carolina Galais and Marc Guinjoan from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya has attempted to look into the relationship between the two topics, recently published in the open-access journal Electoral Studies.
The study conducted an online survey of 2,887 adults in order to analyze if there was a correlation between people who believe in certain conspiracy theories and a set of populist statements. It revealed that people who embrace conspiracy theories usually have more populist attitudes than those who do not. Additionally, a survey-based experiment revealed that people exposed to a conspiracy theory were far more likely to agree with populist statements than those who were not.
From the various dimensions of populism, Manichaeism was found to be the factor that was strongly influenced by the belief of conspiracy theories. This Manichean view of the world is something that we must keep in mind, as it may be behind other worrying phenomena seen in recent years, such as polarization and the rise of populist and anti-establishment parties.
The relationship between conspiracy theories and populism appears to differ depending on the country. However, due to the research’s findings, the authors extrapolated their results to other contexts, believing that the correlation found in Spain would be applicable elsewhere.
The authors of the study, Carolina Galais and Marc Guinjoan, are both researchers at leading universities in Spain. Dr. Galais is a researcher at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona’s Department of Political Science and Public Law, while Dr. Guinjoan is an associate professor and researcher at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya’s Faculty of Law and Political Science. With years of experience researching various topics in politics and public law, they were well-positioned to examine this issue.
Overall, the study’s findings suggest that conspiracy theories encourage populist thinking, especially Manichaean thinking. It is important to be aware of this connection as it could help us better understand the challenges we face today in the political scene.