Those that Believe Weird COVID Conspiracy Claims more likely to get COVID

Reporters with various forms of “fake news” from an 1894 illustration by Frederick Burr Opper

There are some truly weird and wacky conspiracy claims regarding COVID that float about out there. Here is a selection of a few familiar examples …

  • COVID does not really exist, it is all part of a neferious plot by “them” to control us / cull us / manipulate us.
  • It is not caused by a virus, but instead the real cause is 5G
  • The vaccine is the Tool of Satan, the MOTB (Mark of the Beast), and will alter your DNA to corrupt Gods glorious creation
  • The vaccine contains microchips to enable “them” to control you
  • The vaccine causes you to become magnetic
  • The vaccine will kill all those that receive it
  • etc…

That and much more is seriously believed.

The fascinating insight is this. If you embrace one or more of these crazy beliefs, then you are far more likely to get COVID. It gets worse. Not only is your probability of getting COVID increased, but you will probably have a reduced income or even experience job loss. You will also experience social rejection and end up with a greatly decreased overall sense of well-being.

I’m not speculating, nor am I offering an opinion, this is the evidence-based conclusion of a new study that has been recently published.

Let’s take a brief look.

Study: Conspiracy beliefs prospectively predict health behavior and well-being during a pandemic

Published Oct 13, 2021, by the Cambridge University Press publication, Psychological Medicine, it describes a study conducted by a team of Dutch researchers.

It is what is known as a longitudinal study. This means that the researchers did not collect data at just one point in time, but instead, they tracked a group of people over a period.

What exactly did the researchers do?

Early on in the pandemic, April 2020, they gathered data from roughly about 9,000 people …

  • This included measurements of standard bits of data such as age, gender, education level, etc..
  • They asked them about their political aligence and used a sliding scale that ran from 0 (very left-wing) to 10 (very right-wing)
  • They also presented each participant with a series of COVID conspiracy beliefs and asked them to rank each. This was also a sliding scale – 0 (strongly disagree) to 10 (strongly agree)

I bet you are curious to know what beliefs they used.

It was these 4 …

  1. The coronavirus (COVID-19) is a bioweapon engineered by scientists
  2. The coronavirus (COVID-19) is a conspiracy to take away citizens’ rights for good and establish an authoritarian government
  3. The coronavirus (COVID-19) is a hoax invented by interest groups for financial gains
  4. The coronavirus (COVID-19) was created as a cover-up for the impending global economic crash

Later in Dec 2020 they then followed up and asked questions such as these below. The idea here was to identify outcomes and then tie that back to the previously gathered data. I’ve included what they asked within this second round so that you can see what data they were gathering …

  • Since the beginning of the pandemic, did you get tested (either once or multiple times) for corona?
  • Did you test positively for the coronavirus (COVID-19), meaning that you (now or earlier) have received a medical confirmation of this disease?
  • Since the beginning of the pandemic, did you (either once or multiple times) get a fine for violating the corona regulations?
  • Since the beginning of the pandemic, did you (either once or multiple times) receive more visitors in your house than allowed at that time?
  • Since the beginning of the pandemic, did you (either once or multiple times) visit a party or bar / restaurant where it was more crowded than allowed at that time?
  • Did you lose your job during the pandemic?
  • Did you experience a reduced income during the pandemic?
  • Because of my opinion on corona, some people do not want to have contact with me anymore
  • I terminated contact with people due to the things they say about corona

What did the discover?

Well yes, you already know, because the title of my posting is a bit of a spoiler.

The results revealed that the outcomes for those that embraced Covid-19 conspiracy beliefs were as follows:

COVID-19 testing:

  • conspiracy beliefs predicted a decreased likelihood of having been tested
  • of those that were tested, conspiracy beliefs predicted an increased likelihood of the test coming out positive.

Pandemic Regulations:

  • conspiracy beliefs predicted an increased likelihood of having received too many visitors in one’s home
  • conspiracy beliefs predicted an increased likelihood of having visited an overcrowded party or bar/restaurant

Economic Impacts:

  • conspiracy beliefs predicted an increased likelihood of job loss, and a loss of income

Social Relationships:

  • conspiracy beliefs predicted an increased likelihood that others have ended contact with the participant. What appears to be seen here is that people low in conspiracy beliefs were more likely to reject people high in conspiracy beliefs rather than vice versa. In other words, publicly endorsing conspiracy beliefs was, and still is, stigmatizing and can decrease people’s social support network.

None of This is really a surprise

When you think about it all, the outcome is rather obvious. This is because what you believe will influence how you behave.

If you don’t believe COVID is real then you will most probably not bother getting tested. You will also be far more willing to break COVID restrictions or recommendations and by doing so greatly increase the probability that you will get COVID.

Your behavior will alarm those within your social circle who do take it seriously, so they will naturally shun you because they don’t wish to be exposed. Your employer will also potentially be motivated to sack you because you greatly increase the risk for other employees.

If you ignore mask guidance, then you will experience social rejection when you attempt to walk into stores. This will impact your overall feelings of well-being.

What this confirms is that the embrace of whacky conspiracy beliefs will inevitably result in behaviors that lead to numerous negative life outcomes.

It is an insight that will surprise nobody. It does however now mean that it is not just speculation that holding whacky beliefs will have long-term negative consequences, but rather it is now an established peer-reviewed correlation.

Further Reading

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