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Psychological, Political, and Situational Factors Combine to Boost COVID-19 Conspiracy Theory Beliefs

  • Joanne M. Miller (a1)

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Conspiracy theories (CTs) are not solely the domain of extremists and paranoids. They cut across demographic and political differences (Uscinski and Parent, 2014) and can have negative social/political consequences. For example, Imhoff and Lamberty (2020) find that belief that the seriousness of COVID-19 is being exaggerated is negatively correlated with self-reported preventative behaviours such as hand washing and social distancing, and belief that the virus was intentionally created by humans is positively correlated with self-reported hoarding of food, sanitary products, and gasoline/oil, as well as stocking up on weapons.

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Copyright

This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Corresponding author

*Corresponding author. Email: jomiller@udel.edu

References

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Berinsky, Adam. 2015. “Rumors and Health Care Reform: Experiments in Political Misinformation.” British Journal of Political Science 47 (2): 241–62.
Imhoff, Roland and Lamberty, Pia. 2020. “A Bioweapon or a Hoax? The Link Between Distinct Conspiracy Beliefs about the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Outbreak and Pandemic Behavior.” Social Psychological and Personality Science, in press. https://psyarxiv.com/ye3ma/
Miller, Joanne M. 2020. “Do COVID-19 Conspiracy Theories Form a Monological Belief System?Canadian Journal of Political Science. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1017/S0008423920000517
Miller, Joanne M., Saunders, Kyle L., and Farhart, Christina E.. 2016. “Conspiracy Endorsement as Motivated Reasoning: The Moderating Roles of Political Knowledge and Trust.” American Journal of Political Science 60 (4): 824–44.
Nyhan, Brendan, and Reifler, Jason. 2019. “The Roles of Information Deficits and Identity Threat in the Prevalence of Misperceptions.” Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties 29 (2): 222–44.
Smith, Bruce W., Dalen, Jeanne, Wiggins, Kathryn, Tooley, Erin, Christopher, Paulette, and Bernard, Jennifer. 2008. “The Brief Resilience Scale: Assessing the Ability to Bounce Back.” International Journal of Behavioral Medicine 15 (3): 194200.
Uscinski, Joseph E., Enders, Adam M., Klofstad, Casey M., Seelig, Michelle, Funchion, John, Everett, Caleb, Wuchty, Stephan, Premaratne, Kamal and Murthi, Manohar. 2020. “Why Do People Believe COVID-19 Conspiracy Theories?The Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) Misinformation Review. https://doi.org/10.37016/mr-2020-015.
Uscinski, Joseph E., and Parent, Joseph M.. 2014. American Conspiracy Theories. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
van Prooijen, Jan-Willem. 2018. “Empowerment as a Tool to Reduce Belief in Conspiracy Theories.” In Conspiracy Theories and the People Who Believe Them, ed. Uscinski, Joseph E.. New York: Oxford University Press.
van Prooijen, Jan-Willem, and Acker, Michelle. 2015. “The Influence of Control on Belief in Conspiracy Theories: Conceptual and Applied Extensions.” Applied Cognitive Psychology 29 (5): 753–61.
Vraga, Emily K., Kim, Sojung Claire, Cook, John, and Bode, Leticia. 2020. “Testing the Effectiveness of Correction Placement and Type on Instagram.” International Journal of Press and Politics. Advance online publication.: doi:10.1177/1940161220919082
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Psychological, Political, and Situational Factors Combine to Boost COVID-19 Conspiracy Theory Beliefs

  • Joanne M. Miller (a1)

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