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This content will become publicly available on November 10, 2023

Title: How Anti-Social Personality Traits and Anti-Establishment Views Promote Beliefs in Election Fraud, QAnon, and COVID-19 Conspiracy Theories and Misinformation

Conspiracy theories and misinformation (CTM) became a salient feature of the Trump era. However, traditional explanations of political attitudes and behaviors inadequately account for beliefs in CTM or the deleterious behaviors they are associated with. Here, we integrate disparate literatures to explain beliefs in CTM regarding COVID-19, QAnon, and voter fraud. We aim to provide a more holistic accounting, and to determine which political, psychological, and social factors are most associated with such beliefs. Using a unique national survey, we find that anti-social personality traits, anti-establishment orientations, and support for Donald Trump are more strongly related to beliefs in CTM than traditional left-right orientations or other frequently posited factors, such as education, science literacy, and social media use. Our findings encourage researchers to move beyond the traditional correlates of political behavior when examining beliefs that express anti-social tendencies or a deep skepticism of social and political institutions.

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Award ID(s):
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
American Politics Research
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
p. 247-259
SAGE Publications
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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