Karen Douglas

Professor of Social Psychology, University of Kent

Karen’s primary research focus is on beliefs in conspiracy theories. Why are conspiracy theories so popular? Who believes them? Why do people believe them? What are some of the consequences of conspiracy theories and can such theories be harmful?

She is also interested in the social psychology of human communication, including how people manipulate subtle features of their language in order to achieve social goals, how they examine other people’s language to learn about them, the psychology of sexist language, and how people formulate and respond to criticism.

Personal webpage

Project information

Karen leads the Why Do People Adopt Conspiracy Theories, How Are They Communicated, And What Are Their Risks? project, a multi-disciplinary literature review on the emergence, transmission, spread, and countering of conspiracy theories.

The team created a Conspiracy Theory Research Database which is a database of the current academic literature on conspiracy theories, and literature on other closely-related topics.

Recent publications

Douglas, K.M., & Leite, A.C. (in press). Suspicion in the workplace: Organizational conspiracy theories and work-related outcomes. British Journal of Psychology.
Chotpitayasunondh, V., & Douglas, K.M. (2016). How “phubbing” becomes the norm: The antecedents and consequences of snubbing via smartphone. Computers in Human Behavior, 63, 9-18.
Douglas, K.M., Sutton, R.M., Callan, M.J., Dawtry, R.J., & Harvey, A.J. (2016). Someone is pulling the strings: Hypersensitive agency detection and belief in conspiracy theories. Thinking and Reasoning, 22, 57-77.
Douglas, K.M., & Sutton, R.M. (2015). Climate change: Why the conspiracy theories are dangerous. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 71, 98-106.


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