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Joanne Miller - University of Delaware. Newark, DE, US

Joanne Miller

Professor, Political Science & International Relations and Psychological & Brain Sciences | University of Delaware


Prof. Miller is an expert on political psychology, focusing on the causes and consequences of belief in conspiracy theories.






Illuminating Conspiracy Thinking | Here We Are Podcast Ep. 337 w/ Joanne Miller AfS Live: Conspiracy Theories in the Time of COVID




Joanne Miller, PhD (Psychology, The Ohio State University) joined the Department in January 2019. She teaches courses on research design, quantitative methods, political psychology, political propaganda, and misinformation and conspiracy theories. Her research has been funded by the National Science Foundation and the Pew Charitable Trusts and has won awards from the following American Political Science Association sections: Elections, Public Opinion, and Voting Behavior, Political Communication, and Political Organizations and Parties. She has published in journals such as the American Journal of Political Science, the Journal of Politics, Political Psychology, Public Opinion Quarterly and American Politics Research.

Industry Expertise (1)

Political Organization

Areas of Expertise (6)

Conspiracy Theories

Political Propaganda


Public Opinion



Media Appearances (5)

The QAnon Delusion Has Not Loosened Its Grip

The New York Times  online


Millions of Americans continue to actively participate in multiple conspiracy theories. Why?

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Why Do People Turn to Conspiracy Theories During Times of Uncertainty?

Inside Edition  online


The emergence of these inaccurate beliefs is giving new insight into how and why people turn to conspiracy theories as a way to cope during times of uncertainty, according to a new study conducted by political psychologist Dr. Joanne Miller.

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Three Tips for Talking to Believers in QAnon Conspiracies

NBC4 (Washington)  online


“It requires us to be empathetic; to ask questions; to come at this with an open mind, or at least seem like you have an open mind,” said Dr. Joanne Miller, a psychologist at the University of Delaware who teaches courses on political propaganda, misinformation, and conspiracy theories.

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Men are more likely than women to endorse COVID-19 conspiracy theories

EurekAlert!  online


"During a global pandemic, it's kind of the perfect storm of uncertainty," Miller said. "And so when we feel a lack of control, uncertainty or powerlessness, we seek out explanations for why the event occurred that's causing us to feel that way. And what this can do is it can lead us to connect dots that shouldn't be connected because we're trying to seek out answers. And sometimes those answers are conspiracy theories."

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Satanism and sex rings: How the QAnon conspiracy theory has taken political root

Los Angeles Times  online


“There is something about this political moment that emboldens these candidates to run,” said Joanne Miller, a University of Delaware associate professor who studies political psychology and conspiracy theories.

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Articles (5)

Putting the Political in Political Interest: The Conditional Effect of Politics on Citizens’ Interest in Politics

American Politics Research

2022 Given that political interest is one of the best predictors of political participation, it remains curious that the causes of interest are undertheorized and understudied. Notably absent from much of the research on political interest is an exploration of how variations in the nature of politics itself might have an impact on individual-level political interest. We develop a theory and a set of testable predictions about how partisanship interacts with the presence of a presidential (vs. midterm) election, the party of the sitting president, and elite polarization, to affect political interest.

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Are republicans and conservatives more likely to believe conspiracy theories?

Political Behavior

2022 A sizable literature tracing back to Richard Hofstadter’s The Paranoid Style (1964) argues that Republicans and conservatives are more likely to believe conspiracy theories than Democrats and liberals. However, the evidence for this proposition is mixed. Since conspiracy theory beliefs are associated with dangerous orientations and behaviors, it is imperative that social scientists better understand the connection between conspiracy theories and political orientations.

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Self-affirmation and identity-driven political behavior

Journal of Experimental Political Science

2022 Psychological attachment to political parties can bias people’s attitudes, beliefs, and group evaluations. Studies from psychology suggest that self-affirmation theory may ameliorate this problem in the domain of politics on a variety of outcome measures. We report a series of studies conducted by separate research teams that examine whether a self-affirmation intervention affects a variety of outcomes, including political or policy attitudes, factual beliefs, conspiracy beliefs, affective polarization, and evaluations of news sources. The different research teams use a variety of self-affirmation interventions, research designs, and outcomes.

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British Journal of Political Science

2022 An interested and engaged electorate is widely believed to be an indicator of democratic health. As such, the aggregate level of political interest of an electorate – macrointerest – is an essential commodity in a democracy, and understanding the forces that change macrointerest is important for diagnosing the health of a democracy. Because being interested in politics requires time and effort, the article theorizes that the electorate's level of political interest will be highest when the electorate believes the government cannot be trusted or is performing poorly.

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Losers’ conspiracy: Elections and conspiratorial thinking

New York Area Political Psychology Meeting

2021 Elections produce winners and losers. Winners reap the benefits; losers have to dust themselves off. How they choose to do so has important implications for democratic stability. Winners may attempt to develop post-“contest” narratives in such a way as to claim a mandate. But losers, especially if the loss is surprising, are even more likely to be motivated to search for explanation—a narrative that not only explains the loss in a self-esteem preserving way, but that provides guidance for how to engage (or not) in the future to avoid subsequent losses.

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Education (3)

The Ohio State University: PhD, Psychology

The Ohio State University: MA, Psychology

University of Richmond: BA, Psychology, Political Science 1991

Languages (1)

  • English

Event Appearances (5)

Ideological Symmetry in Conspiratorial Thinking

(2022) Stanford University’s Political Psychology Research Group  

The Structure and Antecedents of COVID-19 Conspiracy Theory Beliefs

(2021) University of North Carolina’s American Politics Research Group  

The Info-demic: The Rise of Conspiracy Theories and How Governments can Respond

(2020) APolitical  

The Structure and Antecedents of COVID-19 Conspiracy Theory Beliefs

(2020) Fall Colloquium Series, Department of Political Science, Stony Brook University  

Conspiracies, COVID, and Campaigns

(2020) Center on American Politics, University of Denver