Looking out for myself: Exploring the relationship between conspiracy mentality, perceived personal risk, and COVID-19 prevention measures

Gaëlle Marinthe, Genavee Brown, Sylvain Delouvée, Daniel Jolley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Objectives
This research examined how conspiracy mentality may affect compliance with preventive health measures necessary to fight the COVID‐19 pandemic, and the underlying motivations to comply.

Design and Method
We conducted two cross‐sectional studies (Study 1 N = 762, Study 2 N = 229) on a French population, measuring conspiracy mentality, compliance with preventive health measures, and perceived risks related to COVID‐19. We also measured motivations to comply with preventive measures in Study 2.

Results
We show that people high in conspiracy mentality are likely to engage in non‐normative prevention behaviours (Study 1), but are less willing to comply with extreme preventive behaviours that are government‐driven (Study 2). However, we demonstrate that a perceived risk to oneself (risk of death) and a motivation to protect oneself can act as a suppressor: Conspiracy mentality is linked with an increase in the perception of risk to oneself, which, in turn, is associated with normative compliance. We also find that perceived risk of death explains the relationship between conspiracy mentality and non‐normative prevention behaviours.

Conclusions
Our studies showcase how people high in conspiracy theorizing may (dis)engage with prevention behaviours, but that perceived risk and motivation to protect oneself could increase these individuals’ compliance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)957-980
Number of pages24
JournalBritish Journal of Health Psychology
Volume25
Issue number4
Early online date25 Jun 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2020

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