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COVID-19 conspiracy theories and compliance with governmental restrictions: The mediating roles of anger, anxiety, and hope

Peitz, Linus, Lalot, Fanny, Douglas, Karen, Sutton, Robbie M., Abrams, Dominic (2021) COVID-19 conspiracy theories and compliance with governmental restrictions: The mediating roles of anger, anxiety, and hope. Journal of Pacific Rim Psychology, 15 . pp. 1-13. ISSN 1834-4909. (doi:10.1177/18344909211046646) (KAR id:89982)

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Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic has been an ideal breeding ground for conspiracy theories. Yet, different beliefs could have different implications for individuals’ emotional responses, which in turn could relate to different behaviours and specifically to either a greater or lesser compliance with social distancing and health protective measures. In the present research, we investigated the links between COVID-19 conspiracy beliefs, emotions (anger, anxiety, and hope), attitudes towards government restrictions, and self-reported compliant behaviour. Results of a cross-sectional survey amongst a large UK sample (N = 1,579) provided support for the hypothesis that COVID-19 conspiracy beliefs showed a polarising relationship with compliant behaviour through opposing emotional pathways. The relation was mediated by higher levels of anger, itself related to a lesser perceived importance of government restrictions, and simultaneous higher levels of anxiety, related to a greater perceived importance. Hope was also related to conspiracy beliefs and to greater perceived importance but played a weaker role in the mediational model. Results suggest that the behavioural correlates of conspiracy beliefs might not be straightforward, and highlight the importance of considering the emotional states such beliefs might elicit, when investigating their potential impact.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1177/18344909211046646
Uncontrolled keywords: COVID-19; conspiracy theory beliefs; emotions; compliance
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Psychology
Depositing User: Karen Douglas
Date Deposited: 01 Sep 2021 08:48 UTC
Last Modified: 09 Dec 2021 16:53 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/89982 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Lalot, Fanny: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1237-5585
Douglas, Karen: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0381-6924
Sutton, Robbie M.: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1542-1716
Abrams, Dominic: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2113-4572
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