A secret group of powerful people control the world ‒ 61% of Montenegrin citizens believe this

Citizens who believe that a secret group of powerful people control the world are also more likely, percentagewise, to believe in coronavirus conspiracy theories

UNICEF Montenegro
A boy and a girl watching the telephone
UNICEF Montenegro / Duško Miljanić / 2018
20 August 2021

PODGORICA, 15 AUGUST 2021 – A survey conducted by the Ipsos Research Agency, in March this year, showed that a large percentage of citizens who believed in a secret group of powerful people controlling the world also believed in a variety of coronavirus conspiracy theories. The survey was based on a nationally representative sample and was supported by the British Embassy in Podgorica and by UNICEF.

Three-fifths (61%) of Montenegrin citizens believe that there is a secret group of powerful people who control developments in the world. An international survey, conducted in August 2020 in the 25 largest countries in the world, found that the lowest numbers of citizens believing in such a conspiracy theory were in Japan (19%), Denmark (20%) and Sweden (23%), while the highest numbers believing in this were recorded in Nigeria (78%) and South Africa (68%). This survey was carried out with the support of Cambridge University in the UK.

Research around the world, regarding a variety of conspiracy theories, indicates that there is often a link between beliefs in conspiracy theories and feelings of frustration due to being unable to influence social events. This connection is also supported by the recent research carried out in Montenegro. Namely, those who believe that a secret group of powerful people controls the world are also more likely, percentagewise, to believe that the coronavirus was deliberately produced, spread and used as a biological weapon to benefit certain global powers, either politically or economically. Furthermore, this group believes that an elite few in the world created the coronavirus to destroy the economy for their own financial gain; this same elite few is also believed to have created the coronavirus in order to reduce the number of people on the planet or to genetically modify the population through the administration of the coronavirus vaccine.

In Montenegro, the conspiracy theory that a secret group of powerful people controls the world is believed, to a greater extent, by citizens who feel that the government interferes too much in their daily lives, that women's rights movements have progressed too far, and that the development of equal rights in this country has also become too widely accepted. Additionally, it is the people who do not believe in science who are generally the supporters of such conspiracy theories; such individuals tend to believe in supernatural and  paranormal phenomena or have a poorer level of media literacy, complaining that they feel helpless when trying to find out specific information about coronavirus or having rarely or never attempted to confirm information they have discovered from other sources.

Evidence of the influence resulting from the belief in such conspiracy theories, regarding attitudes towards vaccines and citizens' behavior, can be seen in data regarding children’s vaccines. It has been shown that the parents who do not fully trust their child's doctor would not, today, consequently want their baby to receive the MMR vaccine; these parents are among those who believe in a conspiracy theory where a secret and elite group of powerful people controls the world.

The national representative sample for this study included 821 respondents, aged 18 or over, taken randomly across the country. Data was collected during the period 24th - 26th March 2021, and was obtained by means of a telephone survey, i.e. questionnaires were completed with an average duration of 20 minutes. The key findings of this research are available on the UNICEF website in Montenegro.