Social exclusion can drive people into extreme thinking. Social exclusion can make people believe in stories and events which might not be true or exaggerated. Social exclusion leads to conspirational theories.
A society always has a group or groups that it would consider as outcasts. Once people begin to feel that they are excluded, there is a tendency to believe in stories and events that would seem farfetched. Social outcasts will latch into anything that would validate their position.
Such radical thinking can make people close to them to distance themselves. Outcasts could seek out others like them to form groups who share the same beliefs or thinking. This can be dangerous, especially for those who have a more radical thinking.
This can form a vicious cycle, as explained by lead author Alin Coman, an assistant professor of Psychology and Public Affairs at Princeton University. Joining extreme groups will feed the extreme thinking of those who feel they are outcasts. A disruption of this cycle is needed in order to stop the spread of false information.
The study has been made by Coman together with Damaris Graeupner. For the study, 119 people participated in it. The study was conducted in four different phases. The first phase had the participants write about an unpleasant experience with a friend, according to Woodrow Wilson School's site.
The next phase involved them to rate 14 different types of emotions. After that, a questionnaire was given with 10 statements that they had to rank. The final phase had them endorse three conspiracy beliefs. The results confirmed that people who are socially excluded will start to believe extreme theories.
Coman has said that those who are excluded would first wonder why they are being excluded, and then begin to search for a group that would validate their own thinking. A second experiment involving 120 people was also made, as Science Daily reports. The second experiment involved Princeton students, and had them be either in an inclusion group, exclusion group or a control group.
The groups went through the same process as those in the first experiment. For the second experiment, the results for the exclusion group have matched with the ones from the first experiment. Socially outcast people will also form groups which would be those that would validate their own thinking.
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