Populist Attitude and Conspiracist beliefs contribution to the overconfidence about the risk of Covid-19: implications for Preventive Health Behaviors
Author(s): Giuliani Agnese, Presaghi Fabio
Populism and Conspiracy beliefs seem to represent the zeitgeist of people depending on fast and simple information retrieved through social media. The Covid-19 emergency has simply catalyzed this process, not without consequences. In light of this context, we hypothesize that the higher the populist attitude the higher the tendency in believing in conspiracies and that both higher populist attitudes and conspiracist beliefs may induce people in underestimating health related risks that may be reflected in a lowered tendency in adopting preventive health behaviors. During the quarantine (December 2020, March 2021) we collected with an online survey a sample of 477 adults (Female n = 313) with an average age of about 38 y.o. (SD = 14). About 80.9% of participants reported that they have still to be vaccinated for Covid-19, and about 51.8% reported to be left-side politically oriented. All participants filled out the Populist Attitude Scale, the Generic Conspiracist Beliefs, the Overconfidence about the risk of Covid-19 and the Preventive Health Behaviors questionnaires. Structural Equation analysis showed that the higher the populist attitude the higher the conspiracist beliefs. The heightened conspiracist beliefs were reflected in an increase in overconfidence about the risk of Covid-19 and in decreased tendency in adopting preventive health behaviors. Both populist attitudes and conspiracist beliefs give a critical contribution in increasing overconfidence about the risk of Covid-19 and this may have dramatic consequences when people are asked to adopt preventive health behaviors.