Conspiracy Beliefs Prospectively Predict Health Behavior and Well-being during a Pandemic

Jan-Willem van Prooijen*, Tom W Etienne, Yordan Kutiyski, André P M Krouwel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

7 Citations (Web of Science)

Abstract

Background
Conspiracy beliefs are associated with detrimental health attitudes during the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic. Most prior research on these issues was cross-sectional, however, and restricted to attitudes or behavioral intentions. The current research was designed to examine to what extent conspiracy beliefs predict health behavior and well-being over a longer period of time.

Methods
In this preregistered multi-wave study on a large Dutch research panel (weighted to provide nationally representative population estimates), we examined if conspiracy beliefs early in the pandemic (April 2020) would predict a range of concrete health and well-being outcomes eight months later (December 2020; N = 5745).

Results
The results revealed that Covid-19 conspiracy beliefs prospectively predicted a decreased likelihood of getting tested for corona; if tested, an increased likelihood of the test coming out positive; and, an increased likelihood of having violated corona regulations, deteriorated economic outcomes (job loss; reduced income), experiences of social rejection, and decreased overall well-being. Most of these effects generalized to a broader susceptibility to conspiracy theories (i.e. conspiracy mentality).

Conclusions
These findings suggest that conspiracy beliefs are associated with a myriad of negative life outcomes in the long run. Conspiracy beliefs predict how well people have coped with the pandemic over a period of eight months, as reflected in their health behavior, and their economic and social well-being.
Original languageEnglish
Article number0033291721004438
Pages (from-to)1-25
Number of pages8
JournalPsychological Medicine
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Oct 2021

Keywords

  • Covid-19
  • compliance
  • conspiracy theories
  • health
  • well-being
  • SYSTEM
  • Compliance
  • PSYCHOLOGY

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