The Psychology of Denial, Skepticism, and Conspiracy

Course Description

You will examine a variety of questions from the fields of social, personality, and clinical psychology, related to the impact of conspiracy beliefs and science denial on individuals and communities: How and why do people believe seemingly ridiculous claims? Which characteristics make individuals prone to conspiracy thinking and what are the mechanisms of radicalization? How do conspiracy beliefs shape identities? Why is it difficult to disrupt conspiracy theories? And what can one do to prevent or mitigate conspiracy thinking?

You will use theory to guide hypotheses and use data from research to test the hypotheses. You will examine models related to causal explanations for events, social motives and interpersonal relations, in-group/out-group identities and group conflicts, and information processing. In addition, you will explore evidence-based psychological solutions and therapeutic responses.

As a result of completing this course, you will:

  • Gain broad understanding of psychological characteristics that make individuals prone to conspiracy beliefs and science denial
  • Become familiar with psychological theories in the field of social psychology, personality psychology, and clinical psychology
  • Develop critical thinking skills as applied to reading psychological materials
  • Consider psychological interventions and therapeutic responses to prevent the spread of conspiracy thinking and what to do when someone believes in them


No specific prior experience or knowledge is required, however students should be excited to learn and have interest in the subject area.


One Section Available to Choose From:

Online sections of Pre-College courses are offered in one of the following modalities: Asynchronous, Mostly asynchronous, or Blended. Please review full information regarding the experience here.

Dates: July 11, 2022 - July 15, 2022
Duration: 1 Weeks
Meeting Times: M-F 12:15P-3:05P
Status: Closed
Format: On-Campus
Instructor(s): Sarit Lesser
Course Number: 10347