Dynamic relationships between different types of conspiracy theories about COVID-19 and protective behaviour: A four-wave panel study in Poland.

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Date: July 2021
From: Social Science & Medicine(Vol. 280)
Publisher: Elsevier Science Publishers
Document Type: Report; Brief article
Length: 359 words

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Abstract :

Keywords Conspiracy beliefs; Conspiracy mentality; COVID-19; Protective behaviour; Public health; Random-intercept cross-lagged panel models; Coronavirus; Threat of authoritarianism Highlights * Longitudinal directionality between conspiracy beliefs and COVID-19 protective behaviour. * Reciprocal association between protective behaviour and conspiracy mentality. * Reciprocal association between protective behaviour and threat of authoritarianism. * Other conspiracy beliefs related to protective behaviour only at the between-person level. Abstract Rationale Conspiracy theories about COVID-19 pose a serious threat to public health by providing false information and undermining official health recommendations. However, existing studies rarely employed longitudinal designs, precluding the determination of the directionality between endorsement of conspiracy theories and its societal consequences. Also, relatively little research examined whether the association between protective health behaviour and the endorsement of conspiracy theories is affected by the content of a given theory. Methods A four-wave longitudinal panel survey on the association between belief in a wide range of conspiracy theories about COVID-19 and protective behaviour was carried out on a representative sample of Polish citizens (T1 = 1130, T2 = 971, T3 = 818, T4 = 688). Analyses were performed using Random Intercept Cross-Lagged Panel Models. Results The results showed a reciprocal, bidirectional association between conspiracy mentality and protective behaviour. The same effect was also observed between protective behaviour and threat of authoritarianism. We did not find evidence that specific COVID-19 related conspiracy theories directly (and differently) predict within-person changes in protective behaviour over time. Conclusions Our results showed that the association between various conspiracy-related variables and anti-pandemic COVID-19 variables differs at within- and between-person levels. Changes in the adherence to pro-health measures were negatively predicted by conspiracy mentality and a feeling of threat that the solutions introduced by the government may limit civil rights. Specific conspiracy beliefs were significantly related to protective behaviour only at the between-person level. Author Affiliation: (a) Faculty of Psychology, University of Warsaw, ul. Stawki 5/7, 00-183, Warsaw, Poland (b) The Robert B. Zajonc Institute for Social Studies, University of Warsaw, ul. Stawki 5/7, 00-183, Warsaw, Poland * Corresponding author. Article History: Revised 8 April 2021; Accepted 8 May 2021 Byline: Tomasz Oleksy [tomasz.oleksy@psych.uw.edu.pl] (a,*), Anna Wnuk (b), Malgorzata Gambin (a), Agnieszka Lys (a)

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A664973763