Science through a tribal lens: A group-based account of polarization over scientific facts

Angelo Fasce, Jesús Adrián-Ventura, Stephan Lewandowsky, Sander van der Linden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Previous research has confirmed the prominent role of group processes in the promotion and endorsement of disinformation. We report three studies on a psychological framework derived from integrated threat theory—a psychological theory which describes how perceived threat leads to group polarization and prejudice—composed of the following constructs: group belongingness, perceived threat, outgroup derogation, and intergroup anxiety. Our pilot study suggested that need to belong and intergroup anxiety predict antiscientific beliefs (pseudoscientific, paranormal, and conspiracy theories), thus justifying the general applicability of integrated threat theory. Study 1 investigates the transition from weak to strong critical thinking regarding pseudoscientific doctrines. Besides greater outgroup derogation and perceived threats among strong critical thinkers, the model does not perform well in this context. Study 2 focuses on the intergroup conflict around anthropogenic global warming, revealing the strong predictive power of the model. These results are discussed in relation to the distinctive psychological profiles of science acceptance and rejection.

Original languageEnglish
JournalGroup Processes and Intergroup Relations
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Oct 2021
Externally publishedYes


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