Political Ideology, Ingroup Patronage, and Conspiratorial Thinking: Patriotism, Nationalism, and COVID-19 Conspiracy Theories

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Psychol Rep. 2022 Tue 24:332941221079727. doi: 10.1177/00332941221079727. Online ahead of print.

ABSTRACT

This article examined the relationship between ideology and conspiratorial thinking and the related mediating effect of in-group favoritism in a non-Western society. We studied patriotism and nationalism as two orientations favorable to national ingroups. We also examined their relationship to the general conspiracy mindset and specific conspiracy beliefs that have emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic. The results revealed that conservative ideology was associated with conspiratorial beliefs in China, regardless of specific conspiracy theories related to ingroups or outgroups, indicating that such tendencies may exist universally across cultures. Patriotism was not associated with conspiracy theories about the origin of COVID-19, while nationalism was negatively associated with conspiracy theories about China (an ingroup) and positively associated with conspiracy theories about the United States (an outgroup). Additionally, nationalism has mediated the relationship between ideology and specific conspiratorial beliefs during the pandemic. The general conspiracy mentality did not predict conspiracy theories about the origin of COVID-19. The results indicate that believing in conspiracy theories is not only the result of a stable conspiracy mentality, but is also influenced by ideology and intergroup relations.

PMID:35324351 | DO I:10.1177/00332941221079727

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