In 2015, researchers seeking to understand psychological factors underlying conspiracy beliefs found that people with high levels of individual narcissism tended to gravitate toward them — particularly, and perhaps counterintuitively, those with low self-esteem. The same year, another group of researchers revealed a correlation between belief in conspiracy theories and the need to feel unique.

While narcissism may look like an extra heaping of self-regard, psychologists have long observed that, unlike people with healthy self-esteem, those with narcissistic tendencies are commonly oriented toward boosting themselves by denigrating other people — a tendency easily observed in conspiracy theorists: Those who disagree with me are duped by propaganda. They also tend to have a negative view of humanity: Look at them, they are out to destroy us.

People with narcissistic traits also spend a lot of time comparing themselves to others, a tendency that suggests some underlying uncertainty about their abilities.