Abstract

We explore the relationship between populist attitudes and conspiratorial beliefs on the individual level with two studies using American samples. First, we test whether and what kinds of conspiratorial beliefs predict populist attitudes. Our results show that belief in conspiracies with greedy, but not necessarily purely evil, elites are associated with populism. Second, we test whether having a conspiratorial mentality is associated with all separate sub-dimensions of populist attitudes – people-centrism, anti-elitism, and a good-versus-evil view of politics. Results show a relation only with the first two, confirming the common tendency of both discourses to see the masses as victims on elites’ hands. These findings contribute to research on the correlates of populism at the individual level, which is essential to understanding why this phenomenon is so strong in contemporary democracies.