Conspiracy Belief and Behavior in the COVID-19 Pandemic

How Belief in Conspiracy Theory Relates to Adherence to Quarantine Restrictions (Wearing Protective Equipment, Isolation, Hygiene) and Influences Antisocial Behavior such as Aggression and Selfishness, as well as Prosocial Behavior such as Help and Altruism




Belief in conspiracy, quarantine behavior, antisocial behavior, pro-social behavior


This research was aimed at investigating the relationship between belief in conspiracy theory and personality behaviors in quarantine. Belief in conspiracy theory has been hypothesized to predict the degree of adherence to quarantine restrictions (wearing protective equipment, isolation, hygiene) and influences antisocial behavior such as aggression and selfishness, as well as prosocial behavior such as help and altruism. The obtained data of the empirical research indicate the absence of functional connections that could demonstrate the defining role of conspiracy mindset in the manifestations of prosocial and asocial behavior; however, there is still a statistical consistency of changes in indicators.

Also, preventive behavior was practically not associated with the personality's conspiracy beliefs about COVID-19 (the regression equation explains less than 1% of the variance). It is emphasized that the data obtained contradict the results of some previous researches, which are devoted to the research of the behavioral consequences of conspiracy mindset and adherence to preventive measures in a pandemic, in particular.

Author Biographies

Nina Yarosh, V. N. Karazin Kharkiv National University

PhD, an associate professor of the Applied Psychology Department

Vladyslava Artiukhova, I. Kozhedub Air Force National University, Kharkiv, Ukraine

PhD,an associate professor of the Psychology and Pedagogy Department 

Oleksii Zimovin, V. N. Karazin Kharkiv National University

PhD,an associate professor of the Applied Psychology Department


Abalakina-Paap, M., Stephan, W. G., Craig, T., & Gregory, W. L. (1999). Beliefs in conspiracies. Political Psychology, 20(3), 637–647.

Alper, S., Bayrak, F., & Yilmaz, O. (2020). Psychological correlates of COVID-19 conspiracy beliefs and preventive measures: Evidence from Turkey. Current Psychology 1–10.

Banai, I. P., Banai, B., & Mikloušić, I. (2020). Beliefs in COVID-19 conspiracy theories predict lower level of compliance with the preventive measures both directly and indirectly by lowering trust in government medical officials.

Bilewicz, M., Winiewski, M., Kofta, M., & Wójcik, A. (2013). Harmful ideas, the structure and consequences of anti-Semitic beliefs in Poland. Political Psychology, 34(6), 821–839.

Bogart, L. M., & Thorburn, S. (2005). Are HIV/AIDS Conspiracy Beliefs a Barrier to HIV Prevention Among African Americans? Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes, 38(2), 213–218.

Cichocka, A., Marchlewska, M., & Golec de Zavala, A. (2016). Does self-love or self-hate predict conspiracy beliefs? Narcissism, self-esteem, and the endorsement of conspiracy theories. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 7, 157–166.

Darwin, H., Neave, N., & Holmes, J. (2011). Belief in conspiracy theories. The role of paranormal belief, paranoid ideation and schizotypy. Personality and Individual Differences, 50(8), 1289–1293.

Douglas, K. M., Sutton, R. M., & Cichocka, A. (2017). The Psychology of Conspiracy Theories. Current directions in psychological science, 26(6), 538–542.

Einstein, K. L. & Glick, D. M. (2015). Do I think BLS data are BS? The consequences of conspiracy theories. Political Behavior, 37(3), 679–701.

Fetiskin, N., Kozlov, V., Manuilov, G. (2002). Diagnostika lichnostnoy ustanovki “al'truizm – egoizm” [Diagnostics of the personal attitude “altruism - egoism”]. Socio-psychological diagnostics of the development of personality and small groups. Moscow: Izd-vo Instituta Psikhoterapii. 23–24. [in Russian]

Franks, B., Bangerter, A., Bauer, M.W., Hall, M. & Noort, M.C. (2017). Beyond “monologicality”? Exploring conspiracist worldviews. Frontiers in psychology, 8, 861.

Gaston, G. B & Alleyne-Green, B. (2013). The impact of African Americans' beliefs about HIV medical care on treatment adherence: a systematic review and recommendations for interventions. AIDS Behav 17(1), 31–40.

Goertzel, T. (1994). Belief in conspiracy theories. Political Psychology, 15(4), 731–742.

Golec de Zavala, A., Cichocka, A., & Iskra-Golec, I. (2013). Collective narcissism moderates the effect of in-group image threat on intergroup hostility. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 104(6), 1019–1039.

Goreis, A., & Voracek, M. (2019). A systematic review and meta-analysis of psychological research on conspiracy beliefs: Field characteristics, measurement instruments, and associations with personality traits. Frontiers in Psychology, 10, Article 205.

Grzesiak-Feldman, M. (2015). Are the high authoritarians more prone to adopt conspiracy theories? The role of right-wing authoritarianism in conspiratorial thinking. In M. Bilewicz, A. Cichocka, & W. Soral (Eds.), The psychology of conspiracy (p. 99–121). Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group.

Imhoff, R., & Lamberty, P. (2018). How paranoid are conspiracy believers? Toward a more fine-grained understanding of the connect and disconnect between paranoia and belief in conspiracy theories. European journal of social psychology, 48(7), 909–926.

Imhoff, R., Lamberty, P., Klein, O. (2018). Using power as a negative cue: How conspiracy mentality affects epistemic trust in sources of historical knowledge. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 44, 1364–1379.

Imhoff, R., Dieterle, L., Lamberty, P. (2020). Resolving the puzzle of conspiracy worldview and political activism: Belief in secret plots decreases normative but increases nonnormative political engagement. Social Psychological and Personality Science.

Jolley, D., Douglas, K. M. (2014). The social consequences of conspiracism: Exposure to conspiracy theories decreases intentions to engage in politics and to reduce one’s carbon footprint. British Journal of Psychology, 105, 35–56.

Jolley, D., Douglas, K. M., Leite, A. C., Schrader, T. (2019). Belief in conspiracy theories and intentions to engage in everyday crime. British Journal of Social Psychology 58(3), 534-549

Khvan, A. A., Zaitsev, Yu.A., Kuznetsova, Yu. A. (2008). Opyt standartizatsii oprosnika izmereniya agressivnykh i vrazhdebnykh reaktsiy A. Bassa i A. Darki [Experience of standardization of the questionnaire for measuring aggressive and hostile reactions A. Bass and A. Darki]. Psychological diagnostics, 1, 54–58.

Klofstad, C.A., Uscinski, J.E., Connolly, J.M. et al. (2019). What drives people to believe in Zika conspiracy theories? Palgrave Commun, 5, 36.

Lewandowsky, S., Gignac, G. E., & Vaughan, S. (2013). The pivotal role of perceived scientific consensus in acceptance of science. Nature Climate Change, 3(4), 399–404.

Marinthe, G., Brown, G., Delouvée, S. & Jolley, D. (2020). Looking out for myself: Exploring the relationship between conspiracy mentality, perceived personal risk, and COVID-19 prevention measures. Health Psychology, 25(4), 957–980.

Nartova-Bochaver, S.K. (1992). Eksperimental'noye issledovaniye situatsionnoy izmenchivosti motivatsii pomoshchi [An experimental study of the situational variability of motivation for help]. Psychological Journal, 13 (4), 15-23.

Oliver, J. E., & Wood, T. J. (2014). Conspiracy Theories and the Paranoid Style(s) of Mass Opinion. American journal of political science, 58 (4), 952–966.

Parsons, S., Simmons, W., Shinhoster, F., & Kilburn, J. (1999). A test of the grapevine: An empirical examination of conspiracy theories among African Americans. Sociological Spectrum, 19(2), 201–222.

Plohl, N., & Musil, B. (2020). Modeling compliance with covid-19 prevention guidelines: The critical role of trust in science. Psychology, Health & Medicine. Advance online publication.

Swami, V. (2012). Social psychological origins of conspiracy theories: The case of the Jewish conspiracy theory in Malaysia. Frontiers in Psychology, 3, 1–9.

Swami, V., Voracek, M., Stieger, S., Tran, U. S., & Furnham, A. (2014). Analytic thinking reduces belief in conspiracy theories. Cognition, 133, 572–585.

Twenge, J., Baumeister, R., DeWall C. N., Ciarocco, N. J. & Bartels J.M. (2007). Social Exclusion Decreases Prosocial Behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 92(1), 56–66.

Uscinski, J. E., Parent, J. M. (2014). American Conspiracy Theories. New York: Oxford University Press.

Van der Linden, SL. (2015). The conspiracy-effect: Exposure to conspiracy theories (about global warming) decreases pro-social behavior and science acceptance. Personality and Individual Differences 87, 171–173.

Van Prooijen, J.-W., & Jostmann, N. B. (2013). Belief in conspiracy theories: The influence of uncertainty and perceived morality. European Journal of Social Psychology, 43(1), 109–115.

Van Prooijen, J.-W. (2016). Sometimes inclusion breeds suspicion: Self-uncertainty and belongingness predict belief in conspiracy theories. European Journal of Social Psychology, 46, 267–279.

Van Prooijen, J.-W., & Douglas, K. M. (2018). Belief in conspiracy theories: Basic principles of an emerging research domain. European Journal of Social Psychology, 48(7), 897–908.

Van Prooijen, J. -W. Bilewicz, M., Witkowska, M., Pantazi, M., Gkinopoulos, Th. & Klein, O. (2019). Traumatic Rift: How Conspiracy Beliefs Undermine Cohesion After Societal Trauma? European Journal of Psychology, 15(1), 82–93.

Watson, P. J. & Morris, R. J. (1991). Narcissism, empathy and social desirability. Personality and Individual Differences, 12(6), 575–579.

Whitson, J. A. & Galinsky, A. D. (2008). Lacking Control Increases Illusory Pattern Perception. Science 322(5898):115–7.




How to Cite

Yarosh, N., Artiukhova, V. ., & Zimovin, O. . (2021). Conspiracy Belief and Behavior in the COVID-19 Pandemic: How Belief in Conspiracy Theory Relates to Adherence to Quarantine Restrictions (Wearing Protective Equipment, Isolation, Hygiene) and Influences Antisocial Behavior such as Aggression and Selfishness, as well as Prosocial Behavior such as Help and Altruism. BRAIN. Broad Research in Artificial Intelligence and Neuroscience, 12(2), 202-221.

Publish your work at the Scientific Publishing House LUMEN

It easy with us: publish now your work, novel, research, proceeding at Lumen Scientific Publishing House

Send your manuscript right now