Reality bites: An analysis of corona deniers in Germany over time

Jan Eichhorn*, Tobias Spöri, Jan Delhey, Franziska Deutsch, Georgi Dragolov

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in unprecedented government interventions in many people's lives. Opposition to these measures was not only based on policy disagreements but for some founded in an outright denial of basic facts surrounding the pandemic, challenging social cohesion. Conspiracy beliefs have been prolific within various protest groups and require attention, as such attitudes have been shown to be associated with lower rule compliance. Several studies have shown that the characteristics linked to holding COVID-19 conspiracy beliefs are complex and manifold; however, those insights usually rest on cross-sectional studies only. We have less knowledge on whether these cross-sectional correlates also reveal which parts of the population have been newly convinced by conspiracy theories or have dropped their support for them as the pandemic evolved. Using a unique panel data set from Germany, this paper explores a wide range of characteristics and compares the insights gained from cross-sectional associations on the one hand and links to the ways in which people change their views on the other hand. The findings show that cross-sectional analyses miss out on nuanced differences between different groups of temporary and more consistent conspiracy supporters. Specifically, this paper identifies major differences in the profiles of people who have been denying COVID-19 consistently compared to those who changed their minds on the question and those who assessed the reality correctly throughout. In doing so, socio-political and perception-based dimensions are differentiated and distinctions between respondents from East and West Germany explored.
Original languageEnglish
Article number974972
Pages (from-to)1-13
JournalFrontiers in Sociology
Volume7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 4 Nov 2022

Keywords

  • conspiracy theory
  • COVID-19
  • Germany
  • political attitudes
  • values

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