Are Societies in Conflict More Susceptible to Believe in COVID-19 Conspiracy Theories? A 66 Nation Study

Shira Hebel-Sela*, Anna Stefaniak, Daan Vandermeulen, Eli Adler, Boaz Hameiri, Eran Halperin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Conspiracy theories widely influence our social and political lives. A recent example is the broad impact such theories had on government’s efforts to halt the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. In that context, public’s compliance and willingness to get vaccinated was found to be substantially and negatively affected by the belief in conspiracy theories, among various factors. In the present study, we tested whether some countries are more susceptible to conspiracy theories than others. We examined, for the first time, the idea that the degree of intensity of conflict predicts the degree of belief in COVID-19 conspiracy theories. A multilevel analysis across 66 countries (N = 46,450) demonstrated that people living in countries with higher conflict intensity tended to be more susceptible to COVID-19 conspiracy beliefs. These findings are the first large-scale comparative evidence of the profound psychological effects of conflicts on the involved societies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)286–293
JournalPeace and Conflict
Volume29
Issue number3
Early online date2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2024
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Keywords

  • Conflict
  • Conspiracy theories
  • Covid-19
  • Cross-national

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