Stolen elections: How conspiracy beliefs during the 2020 American presidential elections changed over time

Haiyan Wang*, Jan-Willem van Prooijen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Web of Science)


Conspiracy beliefs have been studied mostly through cross-sectional designs. We conducted a five-wave longitudinal study (N = 376; two waves before and three waves after the 2020 American presidential elections) to examine if the election results influenced specific conspiracy beliefs and conspiracy mentality, and whether effects differ between election winners (i.e., Biden voters) versus losers (i.e., Trump voters) at the individual level. Results revealed that conspiracy mentality kept unchanged over 2 months, providing first evidence that this indeed is a relatively stable trait. Specific conspiracy beliefs (outgroup and ingroup conspiracy beliefs) did change over time, however. In terms of group-level change, outgroup conspiracy beliefs decreased over time for Biden voters but increased for Trump voters. Ingroup conspiracy beliefs decreased over time across all voters, although those of Trump voters decreased faster. These findings illuminate how specific conspiracy beliefs are, and conspiracy mentality is not, influenced by an election event.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)277-289
Number of pages13
JournalApplied Cognitive Psychology
Issue number2
Early online date7 Sept 2022
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023


  • American presidential elections
  • conspiracy mentality
  • individual change
  • latent growth model
  • longitudinal study
  • specific conspiracy beliefs

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