Dr Daniel Jolley talks to VICE about celebrity conspiracy theories and the psychology of conspiratorial thinking

Dr Daniel Jolley (Senior Lecturer in Social Psychology & member of the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research) was featured in an interview with the online VICE news website discussing the reasons why people believe in conspiracy theories, especially in relation to celebrity news, and what effects conspiracy beliefs have on individuals.

Dr Jolley discusses some of the reasons why individuals may believe in conspiracies relating to famous names (e.g. Beyonce, Nick Cage, Avril Lavigne) and how such beliefs may have negative consequences, especially in relation to political and environmental issues, read more via:

VICE: why do our brains love celebrity conspiracy theories?


The Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Psychology at the University’s £30 million Science Centre in Stoke-on-Trent. The department is home to the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research, a large and active group of psychologists, PhD students and researchers conducting work into a variety of psychological disciplines and topic areas.

Interested in a Psychology degree? Come to an Open Day – for further details and to book your place at an open day please click here.

For more information about the Psychology degrees on offer at Staffordshire University please visit the below pages:

Dr Daniel Jolley featured on BBC Radio Stoke discussing the psychology of conspiracy theories

Dr Daniel Jolley (Senior Lecturer in Social Psychology & member of the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research) was featured on BBC Radio Stoke’s Stuart George’s drivetime show (7th November 2018) discussing the psychology of conspiracy theories and why people believe in conspiracy theories.You can listen to Dr Jolley’s interview via the below link:

BBC iPlayer: BBC Radio Stoke Stuart George Show (7/11/2018 – listen from 42 mins, 30 seconds in)


The Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Psychology at the University’s £30 million Science Centre in Stoke-on-Trent. The department is home to the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research, a large and active group of psychologists, PhD students and researchers conducting work into a variety of psychological disciplines and topic areas.

Interested in a Psychology degree? Come to an Open Day – for further details and to book your place at an open day please click here.

For more information about the Psychology degrees on offer at Staffordshire University please visit the below pages:

Dr Daniel Jolley is the Conspiracy Psychologist in the Museum!

As part of The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery’s Friday Twilight Series, Dr Daniel Jolley (Senior Lecturer in Social Psychology, Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research) on Friday 9th November will be giving a free public talk on the psychology of conspiracy theories.

Conspiracy theories are associated with almost every significant social and political event, including the theory that the U.S. government orchestrated the 9/11 attacks, that the U.K Government murdered Diana, Princess of Wales, or that the harms of vaccines are being covered up so that pharmaceutical companies can continue to make huge profits. Belief in these types of conspiracy theories is blooming in the 21st century: millions of people subscribe to them.

A basic understanding of logic, rationality, and probability tell us, however, that most of these conspiracy claims are probably false. So why then do so many people believe them? What makes them so attractive and compelling to people? And, anyway, what’s the problem, aren’t they just harmless fun?

In this talk, Dr Jolley will take you through the psychology of conspiracy theories. You will learn why people subscribe to conspiracy theories and discuss some of the misconceptions (including whether all conspiracy believers wear tin-toil hats!)

Dr Jolley will also uncover some of the potentially damaging consequences of conspiracy theories; maybe they are not just harmless after all!  There will also be an opportunity for a Q&A session at the end.

Book your place! The talk is free and takes place on, Friday 9th November, 7 – 8.30pm.  Further information about the talk can be found via: http://www.stokemuseums.org.uk/pmag/whats-on/events/page/2/?event=EVENT591450


The Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Psychology at the University’s £30 million Science Centre in Stoke-on-Trent. The department is home to the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research, a large and active group of psychologists, PhD students and researchers conducting work into a variety of psychological disciplines and topic areas.

Interested in a Psychology degree? Come to an Open Day – for further details and to book your place at an open day please click here.

For more information about the Psychology degrees on offer at Staffordshire University please visit the below pages:

Job Opportunity for a Research Assistant at the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research

Dr Daniel Jolley (Senior Lecturer, Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research) is seeking to appoint a highly organised and enthusiastic Research Assistant to work on an exciting project funded by the British Academy/The Leverhulme Trust.

The project aims to develop and validate a conspiracy belief questionnaire suitable for adolescents and involves a collaboration between Staffordshire University (Dr Daniel Jolley), University of Kent (Prof Karen Douglas) and Keele University (Dr Yvonne Skipper).

The primary role of the Research Assistant will be to manage data collection; this will involve recruitment of 1,270 school pupils (aged 11 – 18) from across four schools in the local area of Staffordshire. You will liaise with schools to arrange testing; travel and administer questionnaires and run focus groups with school pupils on site; and assist when required with additional tasks relating to the everyday running of the project, e.g. transcription, data analysis etc.

To be suitable for this role, you will have a good honours degree in Psychology or related subject, or equivalent experience. You will have experience of collecting data with pupils in schools, with a thorough understanding of how psychological research is conducted. You should be flexible and well-organised; able to set and keep to work priorities, work to deadlines and problem solve and have excellent communication skills. This role will require you to obtain a DBS check.

The closing date for applications is the 11th November 2018 and interviews will be held week commencing 19th November 2018.

For more information – and details on how to apply – please see: https://www.unitemps.com/Search/JobDetails/20470


The Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research is home to research activity in the Psychology Department at Staffordshire University. The Centre is home to a number of research-active psychologists who are engaged in research across a wide range of psychological subdisciplines

For more details about the Centre, its research activities, events and consultancy, please visit our website (click here).

PhD Student Blog: Attending the Conspiracy Theory Research Training School

By Darel Cookson (PhD Student in Psychology; Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research).

This summer I was lucky enough to attend a training school in Canterbury (at the University of Kent), organised by the COST Comparative Analysis of Conspiracy Theories action group, which focussed on quantitative methods in conspiracy theory research. My PhD research is investigating belief in conspiracy theories and exploring how understanding why people believe in conspiracy theories could help us develop interventions to reduce harmful beliefs. Therefore, this training school was an invaluable opportunity to develop my understanding of the research area and to work with both pioneers and fellow postgraduate students in the field.

The week did not disappoint! Each day was jam-packed with seminars from experts in the field, group-work with peers and challenging discussions and debates. Everyone was completely engaged with the topics, meaning that discussions often ended with new and exciting research opportunities we are now working on. The social schedule was bursting too, with several ideas being developed over fish and chips and a can of pop!

The social schedule also included a walking tour where we visited Canterbury Cathedral

The week kicked off with an introduction to the Psychology of Conspiracy Theories from the training school organiser, Professor Karen Douglas. Professor Douglas discussed the developments in the field, summarising that conspiracy beliefs are often a natural response to psychological needs and threats. For example our epistemic, existential and social needs can all drive people towards conspiracy theories. However, research has found that adopting these beliefs may ultimately be self-defeating.

Professor Sutton then led a seminar discussing the measurement of conspiracy beliefs and some of the pros and cons to using survey measures – extremely relevant to my work! This was followed by our first group work session, where myself and my group learned about each other’s research interests and so began our first discussion session.

The following day Dr Nefes delivered a brilliant seminar discussing his recent research using Rational Choice Theory, demonstrating how conspiratorial theorising can be used rationally in line with people’s political opinions and perceptions of threat. As I am from a psychological, rather than sociological, background it was really interesting to learn about sociological theories and my group were particularly fond of our research ideas developed in this session! We also had an engaging seminar in the afternoon by Dr Cichocka, about conspiracy theories and intergroup relations. We discussed theory development and mediation and moderation models which I think helped everyone with their current research ideas!

Dr Krouwel delivering his seminar on conspiracy beliefs and political orientation

On Wednesday, Dr Krouwel led a session focussing on politics and conspiracy beliefs; specifically the comparisons of left and right and moderate and extreme political views. Dr Krouwel was extremely generous with his time, answering all of our questions and helping us develop interesting and testable hypotheses. On Thursday we had the privilege of listening to Dr van-Prooijen discuss his recent paper on using evolutionary psychology to explain the origins of conspiracy beliefs. This new perspective is fascinating and the ideas bred from this session were definitely innovative and exciting.

By Friday I was feeling inspired but also quite sad that the week was almost over as the research group had become friends. The final seminar was led by Professor Uscinski and this focussed on the politics of conspiracy theories. Here we learned a lot about the role of partisanism in belief in conspiracy theories. Discussions then continued into Kent University’s excellent student union bar!

The training school was extremely useful for my research, particularly the focus on current research and methodological issues within the field. It was also great to collaborate with other postgraduate students and discuss and refine our research ideas. I am extremely grateful to the COST research group and Professor Douglas for organising the summer school and I am looking forward to working with the research group in the future.


The Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Psychology at the University’s £30 million Science Centre in Stoke-on-Trent.

Interested in a Psychology degree? Come to an Open Day – for further details and to book your place at an open day please click here.

For more information about the Psychology degrees on offer at Staffordshire University please visit the below pages:

I’m a Scientist… get Dr Jolley out of here!

This Summer, Dr Daniel Jolley (Senior Lecturer in Psychology, Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research) took part in I’m a Scientist, Get me out of Here.

The event involves two weeks of online chat with school children where, during the second week, the children vote for their favourite Scientist in X-Factor style. Dr Jolley was crowned the winner!

Dr Jolley was in the Society room, which was sponsored by the British Psychological Society and included other researchers who are involved in health psychology, alcohol and autism. Each day, there were 30-minute chats with school children from across the UK where no question was off limits. The children were able to ask our favourite pizza, what we love about our jobs and whether Beyonce is a robot. Dr Jolley commented:

 “The experience was challenging but so fun and rewarding! My research explores the psychology of conspiracy theories – so why do people believe climate science is a hoax or that Princess Diana was murdered by the Royal Family. The children really engaged with the topic – and not just asking about weird conspiracy theories (such as that Beyonce is a robot!!), but about why people believe.  We also talked about their potential harm. This, of course, was alongside my favourite pizza, which is a Margherita!”

The winner is awarded funds to help with further outreach work, which Dr Jolley is currently planning. He hopes to use the funding to educate children – and the public more generally – about the psychology of conspiracy theories: conspiracy theories are fun, but they can be quite worrisome! Click here if you want to learn more about Dr Jolley’s conspiracy theory research.

The Society Zone is freely available, so you can view all the profiles and content: https://societyj18.imascientist.org.uk/


The Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Psychology at the University’s £30 million Science Centre in Stoke-on-Trent.

Interested in a Psychology degree? Come to an Open Day – for further details and to book your place at an open day please click here.

For more information about the Psychology degrees on offer at Staffordshire University please visit the below pages:

Dr Daniel Jolley discusses Grease conspiracy theories live on BBC Radio Derby

Dr Daniel Jolley (Lecturer in Psychology & member of the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research) was featured on BBC Radio Derby’s Sally Pepper’s show (8th June 2018) discussing why people believe in conspiracy theories and beliefs in a conspiracy theory relating to the character of Sandy in the film Grease.

You can listen to Dr Jolley’s interview via the below link (from 2hr, 14 mins, 30 seconds in):

BBC iPlayer: BBC Radio Derby – Sally Pepper Show


The Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Psychology at the University’s £30 million Science Centre in Stoke-on-Trent.

Interested in a Psychology degree? Come to an Open Day – for further details and to book your place at an open day please click here.

For more information about the Psychology degrees on offer at Staffordshire University please visit the below pages:

InPsych’s Social Psychology blog listed in Feedspot’s Top 15 global Social Psychology blogs

The Department of Psychology were pleased to be selected as one of Feedspot’s Top 15 global Social Psychology blogs on Monday 12th March. Feedspot’s blog rankings are based on statistics from Google (reputation and search rankings), social media popularity and influence (e.g. attention on Facebook, twitter, and other social networks), as well as the quality and consistency of blog posts as judged by Feedspot’s Editorial team.

The InPsych blog is home to good news stories, research successes and various posts from the staff and students based in the Department of Psychology and the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research at Staffordshire University. InPsych features blog posts from a range of psychological disciplines, across Social Psychology to Health Psychology, Clinical Psychology and new areas of research such as Cyberpsychology, reflecting the broad range of staff expertise and student interests in the department.

Read Feedspot’s breakdown of the Top 15 Social Psychology blogs by clicking here.

Read the latest InPsych blog posts (click here) – you can find a range of blog posts across the psychology subject areas by clicking on the category menu on the InPsych homepage. For recent Social Psychology blogs, please follow the below links:

InPsych – Social Psychology

Dr Daniel Jolley appears on Adam Ruins Everything podcast discussing psychology of conspiracy theories

Dr Manpal Singh Bhogal joins the Psychology Department at Staffordshire University!

Dr Daniel Jolley interviewed on BBC Radio Scotland about Conspiracy Theories & JFK

Dr Daniel Jolley interviewed by UNILAD on the dangers of conspiracy beliefs


The Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Psychology at the University’s £30 million Science Centre in Stoke-on-Trent.

Interested in a Psychology degree? Come to an Open Day – for further details and to book your place at an open day please click here.

For more information about the Psychology degrees on offer at Staffordshire University please visit the below pages:

Dr Daniel Jolley appears on the Adam Ruins Everything podcast discussing psychology of conspiracy theories

On this week’s Adam Ruins Everything podcast, Dr Daniel Jolley, Lecturer in Psychology at Staffordshire University, was an invited guest to discuss the topic of conspiracy theories.

Daniel is a social psychologist in the Department of Psychology whose primary research interest involves examining the psychology of conspiracy theories.  In his research, he is interested in why people believe in conspiracy theories and what potential consequences exposure to conspiracy theories may have on individuals and society.

On the podcast, the host Adam Conover interviewed Daniel where they discussed why so many millions of people subscribe to conspiracy theories and what tools can be developed to alleviate their potential harm, such as with the use of counter-arguments against the conspiracy account.

This interview was a follow up to Daniel’s appearance on the hit-US TV Show also called Adam Ruins Everything on the American channel Tru TV. Daniel was a guest on the show, which aired on US TV in October 2017, where the show showcased the topic of conspiracy theories with the help of scientific research.

You can listen to the podcast here and also catch up with the TV series on the show’s website.


The Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Psychology at the University’s £30 million Science Centre in Stoke-on-Trent.

Interested in a Psychology degree? Come to an Open Day – for further details and to book your place at an open day please click here.

For more information about the Psychology degrees on offer at Staffordshire University please visit the below pages:

Dr Manpal Singh Bhogal joins the Psychology Department at Staffordshire University!

By Dr Mani Bhogal, Lecturer in Psychology, Staffordshire University.

Dr Manpal Bhogal

I am delighted to join the Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University. The Psychology Department here is full of talented, friendly and welcoming staff! Here is a bit of background about me:

I studied Psychology at the University of Wolverhampton, graduating in 2007. I thoroughly enjoyed the course, and it was after completing my undergraduate dissertation I realised that I loved research. I then went onto complete a MSc in Health Psychology at Aston University, but at the back of my mind, I knew that I wanted a career researching social evolutionary psychology. I went onto work in public health departments in the NHS as a health improvement advisor, working in smoking cessation and weight management services. There I used psychological principles to design a weight loss programme for clinically obese clients. I then began studying for my PhD whilst working for the NHS. I left the NHS in 2014.

I studied for my PhD on a part-time basis at the University of Wolverhampton in 2011, under the supervision of Dr. Niall Galbraith and Prof. Ken Manktelow. My research focussed on exploring sexual selection theory and altruistic/cooperative behaviour. My research explored whether people were more altruistic towards those they find attractive, with a methodological framework founded on behavioural game theory. I graduated with my PhD in September 2017.

Whilst completing my PhD, I took a full-time post at Coventry University in 2014 as an assistant lecturer in psychology. There I taught on the undergraduate psychology course and supervised several dissertation projects. I joined the Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University in October 2017.

My current research interests relate to Evolutionary Psychology and Social Psychology. Much of my research explores mate selection and romantic relationships, including altruism, sexual jealousy and sexual infidelity. I have published several papers in the field, and I am currently an editorial board member for Springer journal ‘Current Psychology’.

I am thrilled to be at Staffordshire University, working as part of an excellent team of psychologists. If you would like to get in touch, you can follow me on Twitter @DrManiBhogal.


The Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Psychology at the University’s £30 million Science Centre in Stoke-on-Trent.

Interested in a Psychology degree? Come to an Open Day – for further details and to book your place at an open day please click here.

For more information about the Psychology degrees on offer at Staffordshire University please visit the below pages: