Beliefs in conspiracy theories following ostracism

Kai Tak POON, Zhansheng CHEN, Wing-Yan WONG

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


Four studies (total valid N = 643) examined whether ostracism increases people's political conspiracy beliefs through heightened vulnerability and whether self-affirmation intervention counteracts the effect of ostracism on conspiracy beliefs. Compared with their nonostracized counterparts, ostracized participants were more likely to endorse conspiracy beliefs related to different political issues (Studies 1–3). Moreover, heightened vulnerability mediated the link between ostracism and conspiracy beliefs (Studies 1–3). Offering ostracized participants an opportunity to reaffirm values important to them could reduce their political conspiracy beliefs (Study 4). Taken together, our findings highlight the crucial role of vulnerability in understanding when and why ostracism increases conspiracy beliefs and how to ameliorate this relationship. Our findings also provide novel insights into how daily interpersonal interactions influence people's political beliefs and involvement. Copyright © 2020 by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Inc.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1234-1246
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number8
Early online dateJan 2020
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020


Poon, K.-T., Chen, Z., & Wong, W.-Y. (2020). Beliefs in conspiracy theories following ostracism. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 46(8), 1234-1246. doi: 10.1177/0146167219898944


  • Ostracism
  • Social exclusion
  • Conspiracy beliefs
  • Vulnerability
  • Self-affirmation


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