Factors that Impact COVID-19 Conspirational Beliefs and Health-Related Behaviors

Abstract: To further investigate the role of conspirational beliefs on health-related behaviors during a health pandemic such as COVID-19, we conducted an online survey among U.S. adults (N = 798) to examine: (1) the strengths of different groups of individual-level variables in predicting conspiracy beliefs about COVID-19 and related health behaviors; and (2) the role of beliefs in conspiracy theories about COVID-19 in mediating the relationship between individual differences and COVID-19 health-related behaviors. Our findings provide implications to pandemic communication theory and practice.

Partisanship, Individual Differences, and News Media Exposure as Predictors of Conspiracy Beliefs

Abstract: Conspiracy theories are woven into America’s social and political fabric. While such beliefs help some individuals organize their political world, their popularity also raises concerns about the health of a democracy when those governed also suspect powerful forces work against their interests. The research here examines national survey data to demonstrate such beliefs have both partisan and individual difference explanations. Generic news media exposure offers little explanatory power, but exposure to Fox News programming predicts greater belief in theories critical of Democrats.