Anti-social personality traits are stronger predictors of QAnon conspiracy beliefs than left-right orientations

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When it comes to predicting conspiracy beliefs, much of the literature focuses on political partisanship. But new research published in American Politics Research, suggests that there are other more important factors. The national study revealed that anti-social personality traits, anti-establishment orientations, and support for Trump were stronger predictors of conspiracy beliefs than left-right orientations.

Conspiracy theories and misinformation continue to circulate surrounding COVID-19, QAnon, and the 2020 U.S. Election. Studies suggest that these beliefs have unfavorable outcomes — for example, beliefs in election fraud and QAnon have been tied to criminal activity. When it comes to unearthing the predictors of these beliefs, study author Joseph E. Uscinski and his colleagues say that political scientists have neglected to look beyond political partisanship.

“During the Trump years, several conspiracy theories became politically relevant and highly salient,” said Uscinski, a professor of political science at the University of Miami. “We wanted to investigate the factors that were associated with beliefs in those conspiracy theories. Further, we were very interested in how various personality traits were associated with these various conspiracy theory beliefs.”

While much research has focused on political orientation, Uscinski and his team proposed that partisanship is not enough to explain belief in conspiracy theories. For example, although Republicans may be more likely to believe in QAnon, the majority of them do not.

The researchers aimed to test additional predictors that might be associated with beliefs in recent conspiracy theories. Among other factors, they considered the influence of anti-social personality traits and a political trait that is independent of partisanship — an anti-establishment worldview.

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1 comment

  1. Does a person’s particular personality profile somehow make them more vulnerable to accepting radical beliefs or conspiracies? All of us have vulnerabilities. A frequent narrative is someone unhappy with their life and/or current difficulties is often more receptive to someone seemingly providing explanations and solutions.

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