Table_1_Racialized Pandemic: The Effect of Racial Attitudes on COVID-19 Conspiracy Theory Beliefs.DOCX (814.63 kB)
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Table_1_Racialized Pandemic: The Effect of Racial Attitudes on COVID-19 Conspiracy Theory Beliefs.DOCX

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posted on 21.03.2022, 06:10 by Christina E. Farhart, Philip Gordon Chen

As national and international health agencies rushed to respond to the global spread of a novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2, commonly known as COVID-19), one challenge these organizations faced was the spread of misinformation and conspiracy theories about the virus. Troublingly, much of the misinformation was couched in racialized language, particularly regarding the source of the virus and responsibility for its spread, fostering the development of related conspiracy theories. Media coverage of these conspiracy theories, particularly early on in the pandemic, had negative impacts on individuals' engagement in protective behaviors and concern with the spread of COVID-19. From extant work, racial resentment and white identity have been shown to be deeply woven into the fabric of contemporary American politics, affecting perceptions of public opinion even after accounting for social and political identities. While racial attitudes have been less studied in relation to conspiracy theory belief, we expect racial resentment and white identity to affect compliance with public health behaviors and COVID-19 conspiracy theory belief. Using observational and experimental survey data (N = 1,045), quota-sampled through Lucid Theorem (LT) in the spring of 2020, we demonstrate that framing the virus in racialized language alters endorsement of COVID-19 conspiracy theories, contingent upon levels of racial resentment and white identity and find that higher levels of conspiracy theory belief decreased compliance with preventative measures.

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