Beliefs in Conspiracy Theories and Misinformation About COVID-19: Comparative Perspectives on the Role of Anxiety, Depression and Exposure to and Trust in Information Sources

David De Coninck*, Thomas Frissen, Koen Matthijs, Leen d'Haenens, Grégoire Lits, Olivier Champagne-Poirier, Marie-Eve Carignan, Marc D David, Nathalie Pignard-Cheynel, Sébastien Salerno, Melissa Généreux

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


While COVID-19 spreads aggressively and rapidly across the globe, many societies have also witnessed the spread of other viral phenomena like misinformation, conspiracy theories, and general mass suspicions about what is really going on. This study investigates how exposure to and trust in information sources, and anxiety and depression, are associated with conspiracy and misinformation beliefs in eight countries/regions (Belgium, Canada, England, Philippines, Hong Kong, New Zealand, United States, Switzerland) during the COVID-19 pandemic. Data were collected in an online survey fielded from May 29, 2020 to June 12, 2020, resulting in a multinational representative sample of 8,806 adult respondents. Results indicate that greater exposure to traditional media (television, radio, newspapers) is associated with lower conspiracy and misinformation beliefs, while exposure to politicians and digital media and personal contacts are associated with greater conspiracy and misinformation beliefs. Exposure to health experts is associated with lower conspiracy beliefs only. Higher feelings of depression are also associated with greater conspiracy and misinformation beliefs. We also found relevant group- and country differences. We discuss the implications of these results.
Original languageEnglish
Article number646394
Number of pages13
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 16 Apr 2021


  • COVID-19
  • conspiracy beliefs
  • conspiracy theories
  • information sources
  • misinformation beliefs
  • pandemic

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