The emotional roots of conspiratorial perceptions, system justification, and belief in the paranormal


Journal Article

© 2014 Elsevier Inc. We predicted that experiencing emotions that reflect uncertainty about the world (e.g., worry, surprise, fear, hope), compared to certain emotions (e.g., anger, happiness, disgust, contentment), would activate the need to imbue the world with order and structure across a wide range of compensatory measures. To test this hypothesis, three experiments orthogonally manipulated the uncertainty and the valence of emotions. Experiencing uncertain emotions increased defense of government (Experiment 1) and led people to embrace conspiracies and the paranormal (Experiment 2). Self-affirmation eliminated the effects of uncertain emotions on compensatory control (Experiment 3). Across all experiments, the valence of the emotions had no main effects on compensatory control and never interacted with the uncertainty of emotions. These studies establish a link between the experience of emotions and the desire for structure.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Whitson, JA; Galinsky, AD; Kay, A

Published Date

  • January 1, 2015

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 56 /

Start / End Page

  • 89 - 95

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1096-0465

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0022-1031

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.jesp.2014.09.002

Citation Source

  • Scopus