Friday, December 12, 2014

A Favorite Paper, Shot Down

I enjoy researching people's beliefs in conspiracy theories, but my latest paper got shot down by a top journal. That's okay. It happens. I haven't actually read the comments yet -- I like to let them sit for a day or two before reading why my manuscript sucks -- and I'm not sure whether it's worth sending out elsewhere. It's a neat idea, this paper, as it looks at beliefs in conspiracy theories from the left and right, but I dunno that it's neat enough or the results strong enough to justify publication. Maybe I'll use it as a conference paper at some point.

Oh, and here's a previous blog post that gives a bit about the paper at an earlier stage.

I admit I kinda struggled with it at times. One aspect that hurt is there are few surprises in the results. Liberals believe the worst about conservatives via conspiracy theories, and vice versa. It does include what I think is a useful analysis of individual differences that might also explain conspiratorial beliefs beyond mere partisanship and ideology (anxiety, financial uncertainty, and interpersonal trust). There are sound theoretical reasons why they might be expected to play a role. In general, after controlling for ideology, etc., people who tend not to trust others also believe in conspiracy theories of the left and the right. Not a great media angle there, but kinda neat.

As to the media stuff, the results are unsurprising. Watching Fox News predicted believing the conspiracy theories about Obama but not about Bush. Neat, though, is that after all these controls, watching comedy news programs The Daily Show and The Colbert Report was associated with not believing any of the theories, regardless of their direction.

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