A link can reportedly be drawn between a person's belief in truth relativism and the likelihood of the person to believe in conspiracy theories, according to study from Linköping University in Sweden.
The study, published last month in the peer-reviewed journal ScienceDirect, showed that individuals who trust their instinctual perspectives are more likely to believe such theories that research showcased. The data was composed of two separate studies and was funded by the Swedish Research Council.
“I think many people who emphasize a more relativistic view of what truth is mean well. They believe that it’s important that everyone should be able to make their voice heard"Julia Aspernäs, PhD researcher
“I think many people who emphasize a more relativistic view of what truth is mean well. They believe that it’s important that everyone should be able to make their voice heard. But these results show that such a view can actually be quite dangerous,” Julia Aspernäs, a PhD student for Behavioral Sciences at the university and researcher on the study, said.
In the first study, a group of 1,000 Swedes were polled. They were given a set of questions on their perception of what truth is, followed by being asked their views on a variety of conspiracy theories, alongside obviously ludicrous sentences. Information that typically correlates with belief in conspiracy theories, gender, political orientation, and education was then matched against their earlier responses.
The second and smaller study
The second and smaller study involved 400 people from the United Kingdom. The researchers here focused on providing new information to respondents who had answered similar questions and gauged their willingness to alter their beliefs.
Following these studies, researchers isolated two distinct permutations of relativism. A truth relativism in which the individual believes that truth is defined by the subjective feelings of every person. And a second in which the group one belongs to will dictate that person's truth, known as ‘cultural relativism’.
Results from the two studies revealed that individuals who hold relativistic conceptions of truth are indeed more likely to believe in conspiracy theories as well as to find hidden meanings within nonsensical sentences.