Irrational beliefs about COVID-19: A scoping review

Federica Maria Magarini, Margherita Pinelli, Arianna Sinisi, Silvia Ferrari, Giovanna Laura De Fazio, Gian Maria Galeazzi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Since the emergence of the recent Coronavirus Disease of 2019 (COVID-19) and its spread as a pandemic, there has been a parallel spread of false and misleading information, known as an infodemic. The COVID-19 infodemic has induced distrust in scientific communities, governments, institutions and the population, and a confidence crisis that has led to harmful health behaviours, also impacting on mental health. The aim of this study is to provide a scoping review of the scientific literature about COVID-19-related misinformation and conspiracy theories, focusing on the construction of a conceptual framework which is useful for the interpretation of the conspiracy theory phenomenon surrounding COVID-19, and its consequences. Particular socio-environmental conditions (i.e., low educational level, younger age), psychological processes and attitudes (such as low levels of epistemic trust, the avoidance of uncertainty, extraversion, collective narcissism, and a conspiracy-prone mindset), and contextual factors (e.g., high levels of self-perceived risk and anxiety) seem to underpin the adherence to beliefs that are not solely the domain of paranoids and extremists but a widespread phenomenon that has caused important health, social and political consequences.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9839
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume18
Issue number19
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021

Keywords

  • Conspiracy theories
  • Coronavirus
  • COVID-19
  • Infodemic
  • Mental health
  • Misinformation
  • Public health
  • Social and public trust

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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