Antecedents and consequences of COVID-19 conspiracy beliefs: a systematic review

Valerie van Mulukom, Lotte Pummerer, Sinan Alper , Hui Bai, Vladimíra Čavojová, Jessica Farias, Cameron Kay, Ljiljana Lazarevic, Emilio Lobato, Gaëlle Marinthe, Irena Pavela Banai, Jakub Šrol, Iris Žeželj

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

116 Citations (Scopus)
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Rationale. Belief in COVID-19 conspiracy theories can have severe consequences; it is therefore crucial to understand this phenomenon, in its similarities with general conspiracy belief, but also in how it is context-dependent.
Objective. The aim of this systematic review is to provide a comprehensive overview of the available research on COVID-19 conspiracy beliefs and to synthesise this research to make it widely accessible.
Method. We present a synthesis of COVID-19 conspiracy belief research from 85 international articles, identified and appraised through a systematic review, in line with contemporary protocols and guidelines for systematic reviews.
Results. We identify a number of potential antecedents of COVID-19 conspiracy beliefs (individual differences, personality traits, demographic variables, attitudes, thinking styles and biases, group identity, trust in authorities, and social media use) and their consequences (protective behaviours, self-centred and misguided behaviours such as hoarding and pseudoscientific health practices, vaccination intentions, psychological wellbeing, and other negative social consequences such as discrimination and violence), and the effect sizes of their relations with the conspiracy beliefs.
Conclusions. We conclude that understanding both the potential antecedents and consequences of conspiracy beliefs and how they are context-dependent is highly important to tackle them, whether in the COVID-19 pandemic or future threats, such as that of climate change.
Original languageEnglish
Article number114912
Number of pages14
JournalSocial Science & Medicine
Early online date14 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - May 2022

Bibliographical note

© 2022 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (


Funding Information: Jakub Šrol and Vladimíra Čavojová, grant by the Slovak Research and Development Agency , APVV-20-0335 ; grant by the Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport of the Slovak Republic , VEGA 2/0053/21 ; Lili Lazarevic and Iris Žeželj, grant by the Serbian Ministry of Science and Tehcnology , 451-03-68/2022-14/200163.


  • COVID-19
  • coronavirus
  • conspiracy beliefs
  • guideline adherence
  • vaccine hesitancy
  • systematic review
  • conspiracy theories
  • belief
  • misinformation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Social Psychology


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