The psychology of conspiracy theories is a hot topic. Millions of people are subscribing to conspiracy theories and we have a curious desire to understand why; myself included. In my research I take a unique experimental approach to studying the social psychological consequences of conspiracy theories. My research to date demonstrates that exposure to conspiracy theories may be an important source of disengagement with politics and a lack of concern about the environment (BJP, 2014) and also a potential obstacle to child vaccination uptake (PLoSONE, 2014). I also have publications that have examined the system-justifying role of conspiracy theories (Political Psychology, 2018) and tested tools to attenuate the impact of conspiracy theories (JASP, 2017). This is alongside on-going work examining other consequences of conspiracy theories (such as prejudice, everyday crime and gambling) and other ways to tackle the impact of conspiracy theories (e.g., Social Norm Approach, with my PhD student, Darel Cookson).
I am continuing to develop my emerging academic profile and expanding my network of collaborators. Within Staffordshire University, I am working alongside Dr Povey (flu vaccine) and Dr Dempsey (social norms). I also maintain a collaboration with Dr Seger and Dr Meleady at UEA, examining the consequences on conspiracy exposure on intergroup prejudice, which was part of a 3.6k funded grant where I was the PI. This is alongside collaborations at the University of Kent (Profs. Douglas and Sutton, and Drs Cichocka and Leite) and City, University of London (Dr Mahmood). My research also has a strong interdisciplinary focus, where for example, I am keen to collaborate with environmental social scientists. Of relevance therefore, I also have experience working on several externally funded, inter-disciplinary grants. In my previous role as a an industry-funded Research Associate for example, I was involved in several projects working alongside researchers in industry. This collaborative work has been paramount in developing my own impact agenda, by providing early experience of working with non-academic user groups.
My research has the potential to generate significant impact that changes practice and thinking. My research to date has shown conspiracy theories may have significant and detrimental consequences on the political system, environmentally-friendly initiatives and childhood vaccination (BJP, PLoSONE, 2014). This demonstrates the potential for this research to impact society and social policy. The message to policy makers is clear: Conspiracy theories may not just be harmless chatter of little concern as once thought, but may have wide-ranging detrimental consequences. Knowledge exchange is therefore a priority in my research agenda. My research has appeared in such outlets as The Guardian, The New York Times and The Independent. I regularly appear on Radio (such as BBC Radio Scotland), Podcasts (Fake News) and have been a guest on the Adam Ruins Everything USA hit TV Show in late-2017. I also contribute to a popular blog based around the psychology of conspiracy theories (www.conspiracypsychology.com), which has recieved over 262,000 views.