Saturday, June 11, 2011

Conspiracy Theories and Paranoia

So ... um ... how do you think Princess Diana died? JFK? When you talk about the "terrorist attacks of 9/11," do you actually draw air quotes with your fingers? Was coverage of the U. S. Apollo missions to the moon a sham? Is your government hiding visits from space aliens?

A long-growing body of research suggests that people who believe in conspiracy theories do so in order to vent unrelieved negative and angry feelings. These people are disagreeable and have difficulties in their relationships with authority figures. This body of research has now been topped off by a study conducted at Northumbria University in Newcastle. In "Belief in Conspiracy Theories. The Role of Paranormal Belief, Paranoid Ideation, and Schizotypy," in the June 2011 Personality and Individual Differences, the psychologists report that people who believe in conspiracy theories score high on measures of paranoia and schizotypal (odd loner) behavior. The psychologists suggest that, for many such people, conspiracy theories may serve a useful function, giving them a safe hook on which to hang their otherwise mounting anxiety.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

In Discover Magazine This Month: 20 Things You Didn't Know about Stress

In June's Discover Magazine:

1 Think about money, work, economic outlook, family, and relationships. Feeling anxious? In a 2010 American Psychological Association survey [pdf], those five factors were the most often cited sources of stress for Americans.

2 Stress is strongly tied to cardiac disease, hypertension, inflammatory diseases, and compromised immune systems, and possibly to cancer.

3 And stress can literally break your heart. Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, or “broken heart syndrome,” occurs when the bottom of the heart balloons into the shape of a pot (a tako-tsubo) used in Japan to trap octopus. It’s caused when grief or another extreme stressor makes stress hormones flood the heart.

See "things" 4-20.