Coronavirus conspiracy beliefs and distrust of science predict risky public health behaviours through optimistically biased risk perceptions in Ukraine, Turkey, and Germany

Chayinska, Maria, Uluğ, Özden Melis, Ayanian, Arin H, Gratzel, Johanna Claudia, Brik, Tymofii, Kende, Anna and McGarty, Craig (2021) Coronavirus conspiracy beliefs and distrust of science predict risky public health behaviours through optimistically biased risk perceptions in Ukraine, Turkey, and Germany. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations. pp. 2-19. ISSN 1368-4302

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Abstract

The present paper examines the extent to which conspiracy beliefs about the COVID-19 outbreak and distrust of epidemiological science are likely to predict optimistically biased risk perceptions at the individual and group levels. We explored the factor structure of coronavirus conspiracy beliefs and their associations with trust in science in predicting risk perceptions using survey data collected in Ukraine (N = 390), Turkey (N = 290), and Germany (N = 408). We further expected conspiracy beliefs and distrust of science to predict people’s willingness to attend public gatherings versus maintaining preventive physical distancing through optimistically biased risk perceptions. Metric noninvariance for key constructs across the samples was observed so the samples were analysed separately. In Ukraine, a two-factor structure of conspiracy beliefs was found wherein COVID-19 bioweapon (but not COVID-19 profit) beliefs were negatively associated with public gathering through optimistically biased individual risk perceptions. In Turkey and Germany, conspiracy beliefs showed a single-factor solution that was negatively associated with preventive distancing and positively related to public gathering through optimistically biased public risk metaperceptions. The hypothesis about the direct and indirect effects of trust in science on risky health behaviour was partially confirmed in all three samples. The observed discrepancies in our findings are discussed.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: conspiracy beliefs, coronavirus, pandemic, preventive physical distancing, risk perceptions, risky health behaviour, trust in science
Schools and Departments: School of Psychology > Psychology
SWORD Depositor: Mx Elements Account
Depositing User: Mx Elements Account
Date Deposited: 17 Sep 2021 14:00
Last Modified: 17 Sep 2021 14:00
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/101725

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