Press Release

ADL Survey Finds Strong Correlation Between Conspiratorial Thinking and Antisemitic Attitudes

Respondents who believe antisemitic tropes are less likely to know Jews; More likely to lack knowledge of Holocaust facts

New York, NY, March 17, 2023 – Believing in antisemitic tropes is strongly correlated with a lack of knowledge about Jews and Judaism, according to new insights from the ADL (Anti-Defamation League) survey of Antisemitic Attitudes in America. Agreement with the Great Replacement Theory is also a significant predictor of antisemitic beliefs, even after controlling for demographic factors.

In January, ADL released topline survey findings showing the highest percentage of respondents harboring extensive antisemitic prejudice in decades. For this report, researchers expanded on correlations between antisemitic beliefs and factors such as education, conspiratorial thinking and personal connections. For example, believing more anti-Jewish tropes is strongly correlated with not knowing the number of Jews who died in the Holocaust as well as overestimating and underestimating the number – underscoring the complex dynamics at the heart of antisemitism. 

“While antisemitism in America presents a dire situation, this analysis helps us understand the intersections between antisemitism, ignorance and conspiratorial thinking, and how to best combat this hatred,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL CEO. “Ultimately, any strategy for protecting the Jewish community must include education at its core – we can’t fight hate without changing hearts and minds.” 

Findings include that respondents who agree with more anti-Jewish statements:

  • Know significantly less about Jews, Judaism, and Jewish history, including minimizing the number of Jews who died in the Holocaust and overestimating the proportional size of the American Jewish community.
  • Are more likely to not have any relationships with Jewish people and classify their past experiences with Jews more negatively. Respondents who don’t know any Jews are more likely to agree with a greater number of anti-Jewish tropes than those who know more than seven Jews.
  • Are significantly less likely to think that Jews face organized hostility or danger for being Jewish, or that Jew-hatred is a serious or growing problem.
  • Show a disposition toward conspiratorial thinking. In general, as support for different conspiracy theories increases, so too does agreement with anti-Jewish tropes.
  • Survey respondents who indicated that their school taught specifically about the Holocaust endorsed the fewest anti-Jewish statements.

The survey found that 12 percent of Americans either “strongly agree” or “agree” with the statement that “there are people who secretly work to make sure immigrants will eventually replace real Americans.” And those who agreed with that central tenet of the Great Replacement Theory also endorsed six or more statements from the ADL antisemitism index. This held true for other conspiratorial ideas, such as the notion that secret organizations greatly influence political decisions, or the idea that “powerful forces” are trying to drive White people away from exercising influence in society.

“Our data indicate that people who believe in more antisemitic tropes show a clear disposition toward conspiratorial thinking,” said Matt Williams, Vice President of the ADL Center on Antisemitism Research. “The Great Replacement Theory alludes to powerful and secret forces working against the interest of ‘real Americans,’ which loudly echoes common antisemitic beliefs. What is less expected is that even a general disposition toward conspiratorial thinking has a significant relationship with antisemitic attitudes. This finding gives us further insight into how antisemitism functions as not merely a prejudice but as a way people try to make sense of the world.”

This survey was conducted online in September and October 2022. It includes a weighted, representative sample of 4,007 respondents from the National Opinion Research Center’s AmeriSpeak panel. The margin of error is +\- 2.06 percentage points. This is the second of several reports ADL plans to release based on this survey of U.S. antisemitic attitudes; future research will explore demographic subgroups, as well as how and why anti-Jewish and anti-Israel attitudes spread.

ADL is the leading anti-hate organization in the world. Founded in 1913, its timeless mission is “to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all.” Today, ADL continues to fight all forms of antisemitism and bias, using innovation and partnerships to drive impact. A global leader in combating antisemitism, countering extremism and battling bigotry wherever and whenever it happens, ADL works to protect democracy and ensure a just and inclusive society for all.