Conspiracy stories are like hero stories
Social psychologist Pia Lamberty researches why people believe in conspiracy stories. It earned her a lot of hate.
Ms. Lamberty, according to the so-called Mitte study published in 2021 by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, around one in five people in Germany tend to have a conspiracy mentality. This is the individual tendency to perceive the world as a place full of conspiracies. Have conspiracy stories reached mainstream society?
Conspiracy stories have always been at the center of society. It is nothing new that people from all walks of life believe that evil forces are in control. However, I believe that society has now become more sensitive and has recognized that such claims are neither harmless nor funny, and they have real consequences, for example when many people vehemently oppose vaccinations in a global crisis.
Has misinformation actually increased in the pandemic?
It's hard to say. Misinformation on medical topics has been circulating for centuries. At the moment, however, the topic of he alth and illness is very present and determines the social discourse. So I do think that both the level of statements that are false and intentional disinformation have increased. For example about vaccinations, because of course there are financial interests behind them and people try to market their own healing approaches …