The Power of Knowledge (知識の力)

Beyond the universal aspects of fear and our survival response to it, certain personality traits may make individuals more susceptible to believing it's the end of the world. Social psychologist Karen Douglas at the University of Kent studies conspiracy theorists and suspects that her study subjects, in some cases, share attributes with those who believe in an impending apocalypse. She points out that, although these are essentially two different phenomena, certain apocalyptic beliefs are also at the heart of conspiracy theories—for example, the belief that government agencies know about an impending disaster and are intentionally hiding this fact to prevent panic.

"One trait I see linking the two is the feeling of powerlessness, often connected to a mistrust in authority," Douglas says. Among conspiracy theorists, these convictions of mistrust and impotence make their conspiracies more precious—and real. "People feel like they have knowledge that others do not."

Relatively few studies exist on the individuals who start and propagate these theories. Douglas points out that research into the psychology of persuasion has found that those who believe most are also most motivated to broadcast their beliefs. In the Internet age, that's an easier feat than ever before.

恐怖の普遍的側面とそれへの我々の生存反応を超えて、特定の人格特性により、人は世界の終焉を信じやすくなるかもしれない。University of Kentの社会心理学者Karen Douglasは陰謀論者たちを研究しており、「自分の研究対象が、場合によっては、差し迫った黙示録を信じる人々と共通した属性を持っている」可能性があると考えている。Douglasは「これらは本質的に2つの異なる現象だが、ある種の終末論的な信念も陰謀論の中心にある」と指摘する。たとえば、「政府機関は差し迫った災厄について知っているが、パニックを防ぐためにこの事実を意図的に隠している」という信念である。



[ Daisy Yuhas: "Psychology Reveals the Comforts of the Apocalypse" (2012/12/18) ]
「信念を広めること」は、「他人とは違ったものでありたい」という独自性欲求(Need for uniqueness)によるもの。

Consuming, however, is not the only way that people can choose to express their uniqueness. Indeed, Snyder and Fromkin (1980) suggested that people can also express their sense of difference through their beliefs. Abelson (1986) goes further by formulating the theoretical perspective that “beliefs are like possessions.” This idea is illustrated by examining popular linguistic expressions using a belief-possession metaphor, for example, “to acquire a belief” or “to hold a belief” (Abelson, 1986, p. 230). Indeed, building on Lakoff and Johnson (1980/2002), the metaphors are the basis of our conceptual system, which in turn, define our everyday realities. Hence, the belief-possession metaphor may serve as a hint to the idea of beliefs as possessions. Finally, to the same extent that people can express their uniqueness through their unique possessions, people who hold unique beliefs can demonstrate their unusual taste, as Abelson (1986) suggests, by saying that people who cultivate original views about the world convey to others the special nature of their personality.

しかし、消費することだけが、人々が選択する独自性の表現方法ではない。実際、Snyder and Fromkin (1980)は、自分の信念を通して自分の違いの感覚を表現できることを示唆した。Abelson (1986)はさらに、「信念は所有物のようなものである」という理論的観点を定式化している。この考えは、たとえば「信念を獲得する」あるいは「信念を保持する」など、信念-所有のメタファーを使って、一般的な言語表現を調べることで示される(Abelson, 1986, p.230)。実際、Lakoff and Johnson (1980/2002)に基づいて、メタファーは私たちの概念システムの基礎であり、それが今度は私たちの日常の現実を定める。したがって、信念-所有のメタファーは、所有物としての信念という考えへのヒントとして役立つかもしれない。最後に、Abelson(1986)が示唆するように、人々が自らの独自所有物を通して、自らの独自性を表現できるのと同程度に、独自な信念を持っている人々は、自らの独自の嗜好を主張できる。Abelson (1986)は「世界についての独自の見解を養う人々が、性格の特別な性質を伝達している」と言う。

Abelson, R. P. (1986). Beliefs are like possessions. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, 16, 223–250.
Lakoff, G. & Johnson, M. (1980/2002). Metaphors we live by. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago press. Google Scholar
Snyder, C. R. & Fromkin, H. L. (1980). Uniqueness: The pursuit of human difference. New York, NY: Springer.
We argue that people high in need for uniqueness should be more likely than others to endorse conspiracy beliefs because conspiracy theories represent the possession of unconventional and potentially scarce information. Indeed, reference to secret plots is an inalienable dimension of what a conspiracy theory is really like (Douglas & Sutton, 2008; Keeley, 1999; Swami & Furnham, 2014). Moreover, conspiracy theories rely on narratives that refer to secret knowledge (Mason, 2002) or information, which, by definition, is not accessible to everyone, otherwise it would not be a secret and it would be a well-known fact. People who believe in conspiracy theories can feel “special,” in a positive sense, because they may feel that they are more informed than others about important social and political events. To quote Billig (1987): “The conspiracy theory offers the chance of hidden, important, and immediate knowledge, so that the believer can become an expert, possessed of a knowledge not held even by the so-called experts” (p. 132).

我々は「陰謀論は一般的とはいえない潜在的に珍しい情報を所有すること表現しているので、独自性欲求の高い人々は陰謀論をより推奨しやすい」と主張する。実際、秘密の陰謀への言及は、陰謀論が実際にどのようなものであるかと不可分の特性である(Douglas & Sutton, 2008; Keeley, 1999; Swami & Furnham, 2014)。さらに、陰謀論は、秘密の知識 (Mason, 2002)や情報を参照する物語に依存している。これは、定義上、誰もがアクセスできない。そうでないなら、秘密ではなく、周知の事実である。陰謀論を信じる人々は、重要な社会的および政治的出来事について他人よりも多くの情報を得ていると感じるかもしれないので、ポジティブな意味で「特別」に感じることができる。 Billig (1987)によれば「陰謀論は、隠された、重要な、そしてただちいに知識の機会を提供するので、信者は、いわゆる専門家でさえも持たない知識を持つ専門家になれる」(p.132)。

Billig, M. (1987). Anti-semitic themes and the British far left: Some social-psychological observations on indirect aspects of the conspiracy tradition. In C. F. Graumann & S. Moscovici (Eds.), Changing conceptions of conspiracy (pp. 115–136). New York, NY: Springe
Douglas, K. M. & Sutton, R. M. The hidden impact of conspiracy theories: Perceived and actual influence of theories surrounding the death of Princess Diana. The Journal of Social Psychology, 148, 210–222.
Keeley, B. L. (1999). Of conspiracy theories. The Journal of Philosophy, 96, 109–126. doi: 10.2307/2564659
Mason, F. (2002). A poor person’s cognitive mapping. In P. Knight (Ed.), Conspiracy nation: The politics of paranoia in postwar America (pp. 40–56). New York, NY: New York University Press
Swami, V. & Furnham, A. (2014). Political paranoia and conspiracy theories. In J.-P. Prooijen & P. A. M. van Lange (Eds.), Power politics, and paranoia: Why people are suspicious of their leaders (pp. 218–236). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.