Authoritarianism, Conspiracy Beliefs, Gender and COVID-19: Links Between Individual Differences and Concern About COVID-19, Mask Wearing Behaviors, and the Tendency to Blame China for the Virus

Front Psychol. 2020 Nov 26;11:597671. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.597671. eCollection 2020.


The present study investigated variables potentially associated with a lack of concern about COVID-19 and belief in the conspiracy theory that China is responsible for the virus. In particular, the study looked at Authoritarianism, Conspiracy Beliefs, gender, and consistency of handedness as predictors of nine Likert-type items gauging attitudes, behavior, and beliefs regarding the virus. Initial analyses showed that Authoritarianism predicted less concern about the impact of the virus on health, less mask wearing, and a stronger belief in China's responsibility for the illness. Conspiracy Beliefs were associated with a stronger belief in China's responsibility. Women expressed greater degrees of concern about their own and others' health and about the financial wellbeing of others. In order to reduce the number of dimensions, and thus the number of tests that could yield a type one error, the nine items were then submitted to a principal components analysis which yielded a "Concern about COVID" factor and a "Blame for China" factor. Authoritarianism is generally associated with less concern about the virus. In addition, men showed less concern about the virus overall than women. Both Authoritarianism and Conspiracy Beliefs accounted for unique variance in blame on China for the virus.

Keywords: COVID-19; authoritarianism; conspiracy beliefs; gender; handedness.