Conspiracy Theory Vulnerability From a Psychodynamic Perspective: Considering Four Epistemologies Related to Four Developmental Existential-Relational Positions


  • Richard E. Webb
  • Philip J. Rosenbaum


Conspiracy theories command much attention these days. However, the reasons why people come to believe in them is elusive. An overlooked perspective is the developmental one. We propose the importance of looking at the ways our early relationships to “otherness,” authority, and agency inform the different epistemologies or world views that we adopt and, therein, relate to our vulnerability to conspiratorial belief. We describe four existential-relational developmental positions and discuss how these can be paired with a collapsed, crippled, or delimited epistemology or one of wondering.