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Analysing the Psychological Needs Satisfied by Conspiracy Theories: Exploring Affiliation in Germany during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Landwehr, Simon (2023) Analysing the Psychological Needs Satisfied by Conspiracy Theories: Exploring Affiliation in Germany during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Abstract:Background: This research aimed to investigate the psychological attributes that drive individuals to seek compensatory explanations through conspiracy theories during the COVID-19 pandemic. It explores the insufficient fulfilment of psychological needs, such as the need for certainty, security, autonomy, mental well-being, and examines how these needs may be satisfied through conspiratorial beliefs. Methods: A survey-based study was conducted, with a sample size of 224 participants. The survey included measures to assess psychological needs for certainty, security, autonomy, and well-being. Further, sub-scales for rebelliousness and conspiratorial affiliation were included. The survey was distributed through QR codes and social media platforms. Data collected from the survey were analysed in “R” using multiple linear regression. The constructs were examined for internal consistency and correlations among variables were explored. Results: The findings indicate that the sub-scale measuring conspiratorial affiliations is significantly correlated to three incorporated sub-scales. Thus, individuals with high scores on conspiratorial affiliation also scored high on epistemic inconsistencies. Further high scores in conspiratorial affiliation are associated with low scores in lacks of safety and high scores in rebelliousness. Other included sub-scales did not show a significant relation with conspiratorial affiliation. Conclusion: The study highlights the prevalence of psychological needs that are insufficiently met by public information are compensatory fulfilled by conspiratorial explanations. Hence, this studies findings lead to the assumption that individuals adhere conspiracy theories to be able to make sense of the world, feel more secured within the socio-economic situation, or fulfil needs for resistance and defiance against established explanations. Thus, conspiracy theories seem to offer a sense of understanding, security, and resistance against public narratives. Future research should address the limitations and explore interventions targeting psychological motives to reduce the prevalence of conspiracy beliefs in society.
Item Type:Essay (Bachelor)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:70 social sciences in general
Programme:Psychology BSc (56604)
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