Conspiracy psychologist in the museum

“My research explores how conspiracy theories can potentially stop us engaging in society in a positive way. This talk will uncover some of the potentially damaging consequences of conspiracy theories - maybe they are not just harmless after all!”

Dr Daniel Jolley, Senior Lecturer in Social Psychology

Members of the public are invited to discover the psychology behind conspiracy theories at a free event this week.

As part of The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery's Friday Twilight Series Dr Daniel Jolley, Senior Lecturer in Social Psychology at Staffordshire University, will give a free public talk on Friday 9 November.

Dr Jolley explained: “Conspiracy theories are associated with almost every significant social and political event, including the theory that the U.S. government orchestrated the 9/11 attacks, that the U.K Government murdered Diana, Princess of Wales, or that the harms of vaccines are being covered up so that pharmaceutical companies can continue to make huge profits. Belief in these types of conspiracy theories is blooming in the 21st century and millions of people subscribe to them.

“A basic understanding of logic, rationality, and probability tell us, however, that most of these conspiracy claims are probably false. So why then do so many people believe them? What makes them so attractive and compelling to people? And, anyway, what's the problem, aren't they just harmless fun?”

In this talk, Dr Jolley will take you through the psychology of conspiracy theories. You will learn why people subscribe to conspiracy theories and discuss some of the misconceptions - including whether all conspiracy believers wear tin-toil hats!

Daniel's previous research has demonstrated that conspiracy theories can stop people from intending to vote, intending to engage with the issue of climate change, and intending to vaccinate. He has recently secured just shy of £10,000 from the British Academy to deliver a project investigating adolescents' beliefs in conspiracy theories with co-authors at the University of Kent (Professor Karen Douglas) and Keele University (Dr Yvonne Skipper).

He added: “My research explores how conspiracy theories can potentially stop us engaging in society in a positive way. This talk will uncover some of the potentially damaging consequences of conspiracy theories - maybe they are not just harmless after all!”

The Friday Twilight talk takes place at The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Friday 9 November, 7 - 8.30pm.

Psychologists from Staffordshire University will also be visiting The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery on Saturday 10th November, 11am - 3pm, with a host of interactive activities for families to enjoy. Come along and make a brain hat, find out how new skills are learnt, understand the tricks that our eyes play on us and much more! Find more information here.

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