Graduate student Tom Etienne, together with Jan-Willem van Prooijen and colleagues at the VU University Amsterdam, has published an article in Psychological Medicine investigating the predictive nature of conspiracy beliefs on detrimental health and social behaviors during the COVID-19 pandemic.. Leveraging a large scale (n=5745) multi-wave survey study in the Netherlands, he finds that both COVID-19 specific conspiracy beliefs and to a smaller extent also a more general conspiracy mentality (both measured in April 2020) prospectively predict a range of detrimental behaviors in December 2020. These include a decreased likelihood to get tested for COVID-19, an increased likelihood of testing positive, of noncompliance with government imposed health measures such as mask wearing, financial challenges such as job loss and reduced income, and social ostracism. These findings shed light on the long-term negative impact of conspiracy belief and underscore the relevance of conspiracy thinking on people’s health and well-being. The article is available here: https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/psychological-medicine/article/conspiracy-beliefs-prospectively-predict-health-behavior-and-wellbeing-during-a-pandemic/9739301679DEF2B81958CBB03C5D5AC1
Second, in a new publication in the Journal of Health Psychology, Tom, together with Jan-Willem van Prooijen and colleagues at the VU University Amsterdam, uses mediation analysis in a large (n=9033) cross-sectional design in the Netherlands to demonstrate that a self-perceived previous infection with COVID-19 mediates the link between conspiracy beliefs and health beliefs and behaviors. This relationship exists independently of actual medically determined infections, suggesting conspiracy beliefs shape people’s perception of their own body. The article is available here: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/13591053211051816.