Do voting and election outcomes predict changes in conspiracy beliefs? Evidence from two high-profile U.S. elections.

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Date: Nov. 2022
Publisher: Elsevier B.V.
Document Type: Report; Brief article
Length: 256 words

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Abstract :

Keywords Conspiracy beliefs; Voting; Political ideology; Existential motive; Social motive Abstract Despite widespread recognition that conspiracy theories carry the potential for serious harm, relatively little research has investigated possible antidotes to conspiracy beliefs. Previous theorizing posits that belief in conspiracy theories is driven in part by existential motives related to a sense of control and social motives aimed at maintaining a positive image of oneself and one's ingroup. Using electoral contests as the context, we investigated whether the act of voting (i.e., addressing existential motives) and seeing one's preferred candidate win (i.e., addressing social motives) were associated with a reduction in conspiracy beliefs. In two two-wave studies of high-profile U.S. elections, we measured endorsement of conspiracy beliefs before the election and after the results were known, thereby tracking change in conspiracy belief endorsement over time. Both Study 1 (2020 U.S. Presidential election) and Study 2 (2021 Georgia Senate runoff election) showed a significant decrease in conspiracy beliefs among people who supported the winning candidate, consistent with the importance of social motives. The findings highlight the merits of one's political ideology receiving support and recognition for potentially abating conspiracy beliefs. Author Affiliation: (a) Marketing Department, Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota, 321 19th Ave S, Minneapolis, MN, United States (b) Department of Social Psychology, Tilburg University, Warandelaan 2, 5037, AB, Tilburg, the Netherlands * Corresponding author. Article History: Received 28 February 2022; Revised 21 July 2022; Accepted 27 July 2022 (miscellaneous) Editor: Kai Sassenberg Byline: Sangmin Kim [kim01122@umn.edu] (a,*), Olga Stavrova (b), Kathleen D. Vohs (a)

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A716777825