Psych Central, an award-winning mental health online resource, recently described people who believe in conspiracy theories and have found that they are quite miserable people.

People who believe in conspiracy theories have personality traits like distrust, low agreeability and Machiavellianism.

Machiavellianism is a personality trait involving a cold, calculating view toward others and the use of manipulation and deceit to achieve one’s goals. Machiavellians have limited empathy for others and appear to have a reduced theory of mind.

There have been a lot of conspiracy theories printed in the letters to the editor recently.

The belief that Democrats are out to destroy the United States is a ridiculous idea promoted by people whose main interest is to avoid any social change. They are easily persuaded into believing that their way of life is under attack and they squawk like Chicken Little that the sky is falling.

They believe global warming is a hoax, despite all the scientific evidence. They are afraid that the coronavirus is a hoax to try to prevent Trump from winning re-election. They believe that wearing a mask is a form of mind control.

People who believe in conspiracy theories can’t back up their statements with facts. Their words are full of suspicion and innuendo. They can’t prove anything, yet they continue to proclaim it as if they were some kind of expert.

It is very interesting to read the psychology of people who believe in conspiracy theories. The article in Psych Central can be found at https://psychcentral.com/blog/the-psychology-of-conspiracy-theories-why-do-people-believe-them/?li_source=LI&li_medium=popular17.

Psychologists quoted in this article say that people with stronger conspiracy beliefs are more likely to overestimate the likelihood of co-occurring events, to attribute intentionality where it is unlikely to exist and to have lower levels of analytic thinking.

They also believe in their uniqueness that they possess unique knowledge, and that makes them feel special and that they are better informed than others. These feelings are similar to narcissism, or grandiose ideas about oneself.

People who believe in conspiracy theories are also more likely to be socially isolated. Unfortunately, during the coronavirus we are all more socially isolated, and we are susceptible to reading misleading posts on social media.

We should all be very careful to preserve our mental health at this time — call a friend, go outdoors, take a walk and get professional help if you need it.

Judith Mesko

Rocky Mount