On the societal effect of (Covid-19) Conspiracy Theories and its possible underlying mechanism

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On the societal effect of (Covid-19) Conspiracy Theories and its possible underlying mechanism
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2021
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Conspiracy theories offer unvalidated explanations for important societal events. Research has shown that believing in conspiracy theories is connected with negative societal consequences, such as decreased social engagement and less trust in authorities. This research has mostly used cross-sectional designs and rarely identified the underlying mechanisms. The current research set out to address both of these limitations. In one experimental and one longitudinal study, we examined the effect of a belief in a Political Covid-19 Conspiracy on attitudes and behavior in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. Believing in a Political Covid-19 Conspiracy had detrimental effects for institutional trust and support for governmental regulations. Unexpectedly, trust did not mediate the impact of conspiracy beliefs on the detrimental societal effects. In a second set of studies we provide evidence for the role of a focus on differences as mechanism in the context of conspiracy theories
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so on a lot about conspiracy theories very much said quickly want to mention the again what any minute talk about conspiracy theories and these are not made two explanations for political and society and the jewish secret that intentional actions of mean in ten.
the groups who are sufficiently powerful and to the less you can see some have a very famous ones like that the economy manning was stake or a conspiracy theories surrounding covert nineteen whichever talk a lot more in this presentation. and in today's levy right already know assume that believing in such conspiracy theories has an effect on society and we might also think of some examples during the last year's where this became obvious in some ways but we want to put it to a scientific test so you want to examine the effect of such conspiracy. series on the society here and case off more mature institutional trust and social engagement and as i mentioned in a second study set we also looked at mechanisms as well as potential ways of to medicate them but why said important so we. we have roughly this morning that we have a lot of correlation research and some research teaching experiments but that really what we're missing us research that establishes causalities in conspiracy theories but also believe polarization. so what is really an effect of the conspiracy theories what might be your a third variable that costs as conspiracy theories and effects so kind of to untangle those two and i also think that only if we know what the facts are and how the mechanism really works that this might help us to create better intervention. it's so this kind of the reason i'm we yet we connected to studies but there is already use a lot of things that we know so we know that conspiracy believe a sling to to not normative or harmful social behavior such asks intentions to engage in everyday crimes support for you. when rights violations exceptions of violent political attacks early to demonstrations the support of nanometers political action against terrorism. as well as distrust what's government and powerful lower social engagement were political engagement so the list us how conspiracy theories might have negative social so silent effect is already long but as i said most of this research is currently small and some of this is also experiment. so where people are confronted with a conspiracy theory but really off the research mention to get only this one paper that so the people and has launched to move research so really lacking i'm the sort area of research really look at the launch a tuneless fact that these hat that these have an order to really entangle what's causing what. consequence. so to close this gap we connected to study during in for doing the start of the covert nineteen pandemic where we looked at the facts of covert nineteen conspiracy theories on these variables so physical distancing it here and so hygiene measures appearance. the support of government regulations institutional trust and social engagement. we did so in three studies at the first relational the second experimental the third one wanted to know and in the first and the third one be measured the believe in a political covert nineteen conspiracy theory and you can see the items year for example that powerful people are using coal that nineteen or. or to crash the economy or have to believe that covert nineteen is just one way of the government to restrict the power of the small people. and then participants rated whether they would agree or disagree with those items. then be measured did here in suffolk of distancing we asked for example whether they would meet other people are not that you're into hygiene measures for except to cover the most and coffee in this part of government regulations for example whether they would support school closures or not we also look at the institute. to trust you basically asked him how much she trusted for institutions for example federal ministries and be asked about this social engagements so for example whether they would go shopping for a risk for the people members of the wrist population. ok but with what did you find the first study was chris sectional so basically correlation research that we did on a quest a representative sample from denmark. and they would see that on a correlation a level believing in such conspiracy theories was related to a lawyer tear into physical to something guidelines nor support of government regulations lower institutional trusts as well as slow and tensions to engage socially. what's interesting those that did not seem to have an effect on the insurance to hygiene measures of course i have some ideas but also know like scientific explanation of why and that's the case and. yes so in a second x. and second study would did an experiment that we basically expo students from to bring in to a conspiracy theory also in that covert nineteen contacts and you can see some of the text that we gave them m. which bet that the doubts about the lead to. you see of the measures taken by the federal government to contain the size cost to pandemic have been increasing we now know that the coronavirus it's far less dangerous than initially thought and then the typical questions that have a spike conspiracy theories by have the measures been introduced despite or criticism and maintain first. such a long time and who could benefit from all this so we tried to make people doubt what out what's happening and really to make them think in these sconce duration will leave terms and thoughts and am. well if it was also to asses who says she's quite frightening to see that already you reading this text and had a different or it may have an impact on the students and i mean these all students from the university very and because reading this texts let two. so are reported to us really miss two tiered to physical distancing measures he did not measure hygiene and measured in this experiment and but also lower institutional trusts and lore support of government regulations and it but he did not have an effect on the willingness to. to socially and gauge. but again this just happened after reading attacks and that that we are so fussy signed for them to think and consideration only and full disclosure we also hand and the debriefing in the end and said that helped to set off this tell us. but again the the real heart of this was to look at the launch of to know the facts where we asked again soon to be in two times in the beginning of the pandemic so it was in march and may two thousand. twenty two and so it was eight weeks difference and we asked them about the political career in a conspiracy theory as well as those five variables at the at the one and it too so eight weeks later.
and then we looked whether the and the believe in this political core of conspiracy theory would predict the behavior on time from two and by controlling faucher leishan and unfortunately what was also somewhat frustrating is that the and that only one. the thirty seven people participated at ten point two so that power was. was low and to be honest after these regressions and we still thought that the results of meaningful enough and import enough and the setting at to talk about them. so what we did find is that the belief in the political koran a conspiracy conspiracy at t one. significantly predicted in to lower institutional trust at ten point two and it also marginally predicted lower support for government and regulations that time point two. we also found effect on physical distancing a bill that was not significant. i am but again if you compare it to experiment to know and you might argue that still and believing in such a conspiracy theory has an effect on those individuals. especially compared to those other variables we ache and not find effect of hygiene measures and asked me did not find an effect on social engagement so we're going to occur leyshon founded and toward social engagement and at the curragh they should move you search it rather seems like this is a third variable causing both. and then a longitudinal effect of a covert nineteen conspiracy theories. so too are altogether out talking about the side effects of covert nineteen conspiracy theories he found that living in such a conspiracy theory had an effect on institution the trust's and one might argue or at least what we found experiments is a also had an effect on physical to something and the support of coverage. the regulations which we had not significant results for the launch to move research. but since we didn't want to study we also took a chance to look at the mechanisms and specifically are wondering whether institution a tree trust with media the relationship between believing in such conspiracy theories on your material to spell a social engagement. and and and what's missing here because it's part of normative an sos of the support of government regulations. so we did mediation analyses in the cross-section researchers tell us the launch two new research and am looking at the sec to research we found a significant mediation that in the sense that trust in institutions mediated the effect of conspiracy believe on physical distancing. going to regulation to spell the social engagement. however we did not find this in the launch two new surgeon can see that and while none of these confidence intervals a significant. though if anything it said it's somewhat close looking at the support of government regulations and i also want to disclose that we look at the have reversed orders to be checked whether the opposite could be the case that trust and heaps to conspiracy believe and that leads to physical distance. the government regulations and loss of engagement and which was not the case soul. trust did not predict to believe and in conspiracy theories at ten point two. right but i promise that i would also talk about ways to potentially mighty he these effects specifically we were wondering whether inducing reasoning would help to mitigate the effects that conspiracy believe has on these them on norm it. clearance. why did we think about that well we know that conspiracy believe is related to into thinking versus analytical thinking and there is also research showing that encouraging analytical thinking produces believe in conspiracy theories so this seems to be a way of reducing conspiracy believe or it and we thought well maybe if the. an issue some out into systematic thinking that might also helped mighty these effects on and the effects off country cities in this case and more mature ins. hearing much conspiracy believe by that leave and six conspiracy theories two examples are the apollo moon landing and the death of princess die and we look at not materialise three had. social norms like to not talk during a movie you to not lied to a friend and so on and they had a second study where he measured them the ruling s. to conduct everyday crimes which i usually it's also not normative behavior f.x. seven due to pay for it to be paid in cash and order to avoid paying tax. those or to hide or not disclose faults and selling second hand items and key here is that we asked participants to include in on it here and user after this reasoning intervention or not and the intervention was pretty simple so he basically asked them what is the reason this behavior is. the normative so we asked him to write a text while everything gets normative to not talk during a movie in the cinema and five think it's normative to not lied to a friend and then they had to write of texts. and you can see so the the this line it's the no reasoning conditions so what happens is people like simply rate their enormity and drive away in day can see the more people believe the conspiracy theories the lower their normative roots. but once they think about it and why it's important to adhere to this norman why determined to fish to show this behavior and this negative elation and was not there anymore so whether or not simply for conspiracy theories did not make a difference. and we found similar pattern for and the willingness to conduct everyday crimes and so to sum it up so we found that conspiracy theories have an effect on society on the short and long term on the long term must specifically at the a m. conspiracy theories have an effect on its institutional trust. we also found that effects can be mined it is through systematic thinking they'll i also want to mention a limitation here that and fossil looking at other studies at the reasoning might only works the right reasons come into mind right so in this case the the participants are race. the thought of reasons why it's normative to to not talk during the movie and this might be completely different if and they think about it and then they come up with reasons why it should be necessary to talk to you right and and thirdly i mean we think we held the key to this that more research expression. greece's research examining cause and effect is needed to be entangled those effect.
so i say thank you to go into this is the audience of just one of the clever it is it that this research as well sky was here this morning and estelle of the collaborators from the university of copenhagen.
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