New Research Finds that Men & Republicans are More Likely to Believe Covid-19 Conspiracy Theories
Recent academic research shows that Republicans and men are more likely to buy into popular Covid-19 myths including claims that "China or the U.S. accidentally released the virus; that 5G cell towers are causing the virus; that Bill Gates is plotting to somehow inject us with a vaccine [containing a tracking device]; and that scientists are trying to make Donald Trump look bad by exaggerating the seriousness of the pandemic."
Political psychologist, Dr. Joanne Miller, of the University of Delaware released a paper in early July that examined partisanship and Covid-19 conspiracy theories. She explained that the reaction to the pandemic is political because we live in a hyper-partisan environment in which conservatives and progressives find little common ground.
Delaware State News: “People who identify as Democrats and people who identify as Republicans more and more dislike the other side,” Dr. Miller said. “It’s what we call negative partisanship.”
And, according to Miller, in such a hyper-partisan atmosphere, people often resort to conspiracy theories to protect their political interests.
Delaware State News: “Republicans, in particular, who are motivated to protect a world view that the president is doing a good job, are more motivated now to say that either someone is making up those numbers or they’re inflating the numbers to make the president look bad."
Men & Covid-19 Myths: Miller has continued her research and last week released a new paper demonstrating that men are more likely than women to believe some of the more outlandish conspiracy theories floating around about the pandemic. Miller and her team team conducted a survey of 3,000 people using 11 popular conspiracy theories including the Bill Gates and 5G myths and discovered a large gender gap among both Democrats and Republicans.
American Association for the Advancement of Science: "Among Democrats, there were statistically significant gender gaps for all 11 conspiracy theories; among Republicans, there were gender gaps for nine of the 11. The average gender gap among Democrats was 10.18% points (32.45% males to 22.27% females endorsed the theories), compared to 10.09% points among Republicans (48.9% males vs. 38.81% females). The gender differences were notable, researchers said, given that gender gaps in public opinion tend to be much smaller in magnitude, and the results were surprising, given that past work has not found a consistent association between gender and conspiracy theory beliefs."
So, why are men more prone to conspiratorial thinking? Miller offers an explanation, but says more research is needed.
American Association for the Advancement of Science: "The key factor is learned helplessness, which is experienced by both men and women. Miller described the process: Some people, when faced with repeated failures at trying to affect positive change in their lives, come to believe that they are helpless to control the things that they want to control."
"The resulting general sense of learned helplessness can lead to conspiracy theory beliefs, Miller said."
"What we're finding in this research is that men are more likely to score higher on learned helplessness," Miller said. "And that might be a boost that's happening just as a result of the pandemic itself, that they're feeling more of this because they can't control what's going on right now. That leads to these beliefs that, well, maybe there's a secret group of people controlling these things behind the scenes."
One of the most frightening statistics from Miller's research is that almost half [48.9%] of Republican men endorse many of the ludicrous conspiracy theories that have resulted from the crisis. That should send a shiver down your spine. And, it certainly helps to explain why America can't make real progress in defeating the virus.
By: Don Lam & Curated Content