POST-COVID PANDEMICS, TARGETED PHENOMENA OF RAISED CONSPIRACY THEORIES: PUBLIC PROFILE AND MEDIA IMPACT

 

covid teorii ale conspiratiei impact psihologic NLP Romania INLPSI

Right now the world is going through an economic and health crisis, affecting entire societies and countries.

But you may not know that this crisis is also a psychological one.
While the COVID-19 pandemic spreads rapidly across all countries, you may have also witnessed the spread of other viral phenomena like misinformation, conspiracy theories, and general mass suspicions about what is really going on and if the Covid-19 is real.

Nowadays conspiracy theories have become very popular in any type of crisis... and they spread very rapidly through TV and social media because they promise to bring order, with very simple explanations.
Conspiracy theories are very different from other forms of false information and misinformation. These are special ways in which we give meaning to the troubled and complex world around us.
In these times, when nothing is certain about the Covid-19 pandemic, about its cure and treatment, many of us give credence to a story in which the culprit or culprits are known.
Usually if not most of the time, we don't like uncertainties: we want to know what will happen next and why is it happening. And... if it should or could be done differently.

Various conspiracy theories appear on TV and social media, according to which the spread of the virus was set up by certain occult forces or by the "true leaders of the world". Unfortunately, this can be as dangerous to society as the outbreak.
A theory that is highly credible and highly "embraced" by gullible people suggests that the SARS-COV2 virus (Covid-19) is a biological weapon projected by the CIA against China. Other equally credible theories to the public claim that the governments of the United Kingdom and the United States introduced this virus to make money from a potential vaccine. Although many of these conspiracy theories are hard to believe, there is a widespread global belief that certain occult and evil forces act in secret to control countries and societies.

 

CONSEQUENCES OF BELIEVING IN CONSPIRACY THEORIES

Many people believe that misinformation and conspiracy theories are marginal phenomena or trivial (digital) artifacts that have little impact on real-world actions, but several incidents that took place during the COVID-19 pandemic in different countries have proven otherwise.
Unlike previous crises, recent conspiracy theories are driven by rapid changes in the way we communicate with each other.
Of particular importance is the emergence of social media sites, which allow the rapid dissemination of information based (at least on the surface) on plausible information generated from seemingly reliable sources. This context is important, in part because it allows very personal organizations to disseminate conspiracy theories.
Confirmed researches show that conspiracy thinking is linked to the tendency to avoid the use of established media and traditional media (television, radio, newspapers) and to obtain information mainly through digital media (including the Internet and social media). The spread of fake news and conspiracy theories about the novel coronavirus has become a serious problem, so much so that the World Health Organization (WHO) has set up a website in an attempt to combat it.
Conspiracy theories predict that the likelihood of violating coronavirus regulations, experiencing social exclusion, experiencing economic problems such as unemployment or low income, and general happiness will increase. Most influences have been summarized as broader sensitivity to conspiracy theories or conspiracy mentality.
Conspiracy theories predict an increased chance of disrupting social relationships. People with a "low" storyline belief score are more likely to reject those with a "high" storyline belief score. Public affirmation of conspiracy theories can shame and undermine people's social support networks.

Although many of these conspiracy theories are downright fanciful, these common beliefs can also have a negative impact on society. In addition to causing distrust in political institutions, they can also lead to resistance to important medical and public health interventions.
We see that there are many reasons why conspiracy theories appear in this way, and their impact on our response to the pandemic cannot be ignored. Examples include: refusal to receive vaccinations, rejection of indicated medical treatments, or possible preference for unsupported and potentially dangerous treatments based on other belief systems.
Research shows that people tend to conspiracy theories, especially when they feel they are losing control of their life. In an increasingly complex world, the feeling of loss of control seems to be separated from material wealth and possessed by educated and highly educated people.
Conspiracy theory beliefs are the result of underlying psychopathological characteristics that make a person more likely to have false beliefs. For example, an important related factor is the type of division. This personality style is often linked to delusional tendencies, excessive attention to the details of the event rather than the general situation, and unfounded inferences.

Psychological researches indicate that when significant psychological needs are not met, people are drawn to conspiracy theories. The first concerns cognitive needs. In particular, people strive to know and clarify important events. People are more likely to believe conspiracy theories when they are unsure. The second set of needs is existential. In particular, people need to feel safe and in control of their surroundings. Many studies show that people who feel a lack of freedom of movement and power are more likely to believe conspiracy theories. The last set of needs are social needs. In other words, people need to maintain a positive image of themselves and the groups they belong to. Some supporting evidence is that people who have a strong need to feel more unique than others tend to trust conspiracy theories more.

It is also known that several sociological factors influence the formation of conspiracy theories. One of the most important of these is the educational level of the people (van Prooijen, 2017). It seems that a high level of education serves as a buffer against conspiracy beliefs (Georgiou et al., 2019; van Prooyen, 2017). It is believed that this is due to the fact that more educated people have more knowledge, are trained in analytical thinking and are aware of counterarguments and rebuttals (Swami & Furnham, 2012; van Prooijen, 2017). Another important factor is political orientation (Van Prooijen, Krouwel, Pollet, 2015).It is believed that the more extreme left or right in politics is more inclined towards conspiracy theory beliefs than other people who are more moderate in their beliefs.
Van Proojen and Krouwel (2017 and 2018) also argue that conspiracy theories can arise from mistrust of leaders or from political or financial turmoil. In this context, conspiracy theories can be seen as a form of rational coping strategy to deal with the chaos or uncertainty that results from significant events (Van Prooijen & Douglas, 2017).

 

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE PROTEST AGAINST THE VACCINE DICTATORSHIP, THE SUSPENSION OF FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS, AND THE FALSE MAINSTREAM PRESS REACH YOU VIA FACEBOOK, TWITTER, OR TV?

What dialogue can be established when logic simply no longer matters, causality is no longer different from correlation, and the press, written or on TV, only supports lies?
In addition to the mere impact of exposure, trust in fake media also plays an important role. Studies have shown that distrust of traditional news media can lead to selective exposure to news and increased use of alternative sources, such as digital media that spread disinformation. Therefore, in an environment where there is a high degree of distrust of traditional media, people are unlikely to be exposed to different sources of political information, nor to value those sources in any meaningful way.
Those who support conspiracy theories about the novel coronavirus may be reluctant to follow certain health advice. Conversely, these people may have a negative view of recommended infection prevention behaviors and may use unsafe alternative therapies. This increases the chances of the virus spreading and more and more people could be at risk.

Conspiracy theories can undermine efforts to stop the spread of COVID and affect the credibility of the vaccine. Possible arguments against vaccines are presented as an "alternate story" with equal status from now on. Attempts to reveal its weaknesses are seen as evidence of self-interest on the part of the states and governments.
Meanwhile, the collaborative nature of generating and spreading these ideas allows people to gain some degree of stability in confused and anxious times. Undoubtedly, part of the attraction that there is a "pandemic" is that there is actually a plan that guides our lives, not uncertainty at every turn.

There may be a connection between the COVID-19 conspiracy theory and the inability of people to take action to protect their health during the Covid-19 pandemic. It is believed that there may also be a link between conspiracy theories and the use of social media as a source of information about COVID-19.
Sources of information related to fake news and conspiracy theories are believed to lead to non-compliance with health protection recommendations, such as hand washing and social distancing measures. In these troubled times, people who believe in one or more conspiracy theories are more likely to use social media as a source of information, rather than traditional media such as newspapers or radio.

Conspiracy theories can cause serious harm to society. They can influence people's health choices and increase hostility and violence towards those responsible.
However, we can take steps to prevent the spread of conspiracy theories. Proposing a rebuttal movement against conspiracy theories may succeed in changing some conspiracy theories.

In addition to taking action to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus, governments around the world must also take action to end disinformation and conspiracy theories about the virus.

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