DOI :10.26650/B/SS49.2021.006.06   IUP :10.26650/B/SS49.2021.006.06    Tam Metin (PDF)

Sociology of Coronavirus Conspiracies in Turkey: Who Believes and Why?

Özgür SayınVeysel Bozkurt

The aim of this paper is to explore the demographic, political, and religious determinants of the coronavirus related conspiracy beliefs in Turkey. It also measures the relationship between the trust in science, political and religious authorities, and conspiracy endorsement. In a national survey (NTotal = 5538), we asked the participants three conspiracy questions and saw significant differences in all predictors that we identified. We saw that the housewives, youths, females, those living in rural areas and small towns, unemployed or less educated people were more prone to believe in coronavirus conspiracies. We also found that political identities, religious commitments, and trust in science were strongly associated with conspiracy endorsements. In comparison to their counterparts, the rightists, conservatives, and/or religious respondents were seen to endorse more the theory that the virus is a conspiracy. Further, as expected, there was a negative correlation between trust in science and conspiracy thinking. We also saw that people who believe a coronavirus conspiracy mostly believed two other conspiracies too, namely that conspiracy belief is an outcome of a general mindset.

Anahtar Kelimeler: COVID-19Conspiracy TheoriesPandemicTurkey


  • Acar, M. (2020). Korona sonrası dünya: Ekonomik, sosyal ve akademik hayatta ne değişecek, ne değişmeyecek? [Post-corona world: What will and will not change in economic, social and academic life?]. In M. Şeker, A. Özer, C. Korkut (Eds.) Küresel Salgının Anatomisi: İnsan ve Toplumun Geleceği. (pp. 279-297). Ankara, Turkey: TÜBA. google scholar
  • Ball, K., Lawson, W., & Alim, T. (2013). Medical mistrust, conspiracy beliefs & HIV-related behavior among African Americans. Journal of Psychological and Behavioral Science, 1(1), 1-7. google scholar
  • Bogart, L. M., & Thorburn, S. (2005). Are HIV/AIDS conspiracy beliefs a barrier to HIV prevention among African Americans? JAIDS Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes, 38(2), 213-218. google scholar
  • Cichocka, A., Marchlewska, M., & Golec de Zavala, A. (2016). Does self-love or self-hate predict conspiracy beliefs? Narcissism, self-esteem, and the endorsement of conspiracy theories. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 7(2), 157-166. https://doi.org/10.1177/1948550615616170 google scholar
  • Dagnall, N., Drinkwater, K., Parker, A., Denovan, A., & Parton, M. (2015). Conspiracy theory and cognitive style: A worldview. Frontiers in Psychology, 6(206). google scholar
  • Douglas, K. M., & Sutton, R. M. (2015). Climate change: Why the conspiracy theories are dangerous. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 71(2), 98-106. https://doi.org/10.1177/0096340215571908 google scholar
  • Douglas, K. M., Sutton, R. M., Callan, M. J., Dawtry, R. J., & Harvey, A. J. (2016). Someone is pulling the strings: Hypersensitive agency detection and belief in conspiracy theories. Thinking & Reasoning, 22(1), 57-77. google scholar
  • Douglas, K. M., Sutton, R. M., & Cichocka, A. (2017). The psychology of conspiracy theories. Current directions in psychological science, 26(6), 538-542. google scholar
  • Drochon, H. (2018). Who believes in conspiracy theories in Great Britain and Europe? In J. E. Uscinski (Ed.), Conspiracy theories and the people who believe them. New York, NY: Oxford University Press google scholar
  • Dyrendal, A. (2020). Conspiracy beliefs about Jews and Muslims in Norway. In Christhard Hoffmann and Vibeke Moe (Eds.). The shifting boundaries of prejudice: Antisemitism and islamophobia in contemporary Norway. (pp. 187-210). Oslo, Norway: Scandinavian University Press. google scholar
  • Edelson, J., Alduncin, A., Krewson, C., Sieja, J. A., & Uscinski, J. E. (2017). The effects of conspiratorial thinking and motivated reasoning on belief in election fraud. Political Research Quarterly, 70(4), 933-946. https://doi.org/10.1177/1065912917721061 google scholar
  • Enders, A. M., & Smallpage, S. M. (2018). Polls, plots, and party politics: Conspiracy theories in contemporary America. In J. E. Uscinski (Ed.), Conspiracy theories and the people who believe them (pp. 298-318). New York, NY: Oxford University Press. google scholar
  • Featherstone, J. D., Bell, R. A., & Ruiz, J. B. (2019). Relationship of people’s sources of health information and political ideology with acceptance of conspiratorial beliefs about vaccines. Vaccine, 37(23), 2993-2997. google scholar
  • Forchtner, B. (2019). Climate change and the far right. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, 10(5), e604. doi:10.1002/wcc.604 google scholar
  • Freeman, D., & Bentall, R. P. (2017). The concomitants of conspiracy concerns. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 52(5), 595-604. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00127-017-1354-4 google scholar
  • Freeman, D., Waite, F., Rosebrock, L., Petit, A., Causier, C., East, A., ... & Bold, E. (2020). Coronavirus conspiracy beliefs, mistrust, and compliance with government guidelines in England. Psychological Medicine, 1-30. google scholar
  • Galliford, N., & Furnham, A. (2017). Individual difference factors and beliefs in medical and political conspiracy theories. Scandinavian journal of psychology, 58(5), 422-428. google scholar
  • Georgiou, N., Delfabbro, P., & Balzan, R. (2019). Conspiracy beliefs in the general population: The importance of psychopathology, cognitive style and educational attainment. Personality and Individual Differences, 151(2019), https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2019.109521. google scholar
  • Goertzel, T. (1994). Belief in conspiracy theories. Political Psychology, 15(4), 731-742. https://doi. org/10.2307/3791630 google scholar
  • Goldberg, R. A. (2004). ‘Who profited from the crime? Intelligence failure, conspiracy theories and the case of September 11. Intelligence & National Security, 19(2), 249-261. google scholar
  • Goreis, A., & Voracek, M. (2019). A systematic review and meta-analysis of psychological research on conspiracy beliefs: Field characteristics, measurement instruments, and associations with personality traits. Frontiers in Psychology, 10: 205. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00205. google scholar
  • Grebe, E. G., & Nattrass, N. (2012). AIDS conspiracy beliefs and unsafe sex in Cape Town. AIDS and Behavior, 16(3), 761-773.doi:10.1007/s10461-011-9958-2 google scholar
  • Grzesiak-Feldman, M. (2013). The effect of high-anxiety situations on conspiracy thinking. Current Psychology, 32(1), 100-118. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12144-013-9165-6 google scholar
  • Henderson, D. A., Inglesby, T. V., Bartlett, J. G., Ascher, M. S., Eitzen, E., Jahrling, P. B., ... & O’Toole, T. (1999). Smallpox as a biological weapon: medical and public health management. Jama, 281(22), 2127-2137. google scholar
  • Imhoff, R., & Lamberty, P. (2020). A bioweapon or a hoax? The link between distinct conspiracy beliefs about the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak and pandemic behavior. PsyArXiv. https://doi.org/10.31234/ osf.io/ye3ma google scholar
  • Jamil, U., & Rousseau, C. (2011). Challenging the “official” story of 9/11: Community narratives and conspiracy theories. Ethnicities, 11(2), 245-261. google scholar
  • Jasinskaja-Lahti, I., & Jetten, J. (2019). Unpacking the relationship between religiosity and conspiracy beliefs in Australia. British Journal of Social Psychology, 58(4), 938-954. google scholar
  • Jolley, D., & Douglas, K. M. (2014b). The effects of anti-vaccine conspiracy theories on vaccination intentions. PLoS ONE, 9(2), e89177. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0089177 google scholar
  • Jolley, D., Douglas, K. M., Leite, A. C., & Schrader, T. (2019). Belief in conspiracy theories and intentions to engage in everyday crime. British Journal of Social Psychology. doi:10.1111/bjso.12311 google scholar
  • Karp, J. A., Nai, A., & Norris, P. (2018). Dial ‘F’ for fraud: Explaining citizens suspicions about elections. google scholar
  • Electoral Studies, 53, 11-19. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.electstud.2018.01.010 google scholar
  • Keeley, B. L. (1999). Of conspiracy theories. Journal of Philosophy, 96(3), 109-126. https://doi.org/10.2139/ ssrn.1084585. google scholar
  • Lam, S. K. (2003). Nipah virus—a potential agent of bioterrorism? Antiviral research, 57(1-2), 113-119. google scholar
  • Lizzie Dearden (2020). Almost half of Britons believe coronavirus is ‘man-made’ as conspiracy theories spread. (2020). Retrieved 22 July 2020, from https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/coronavirus-5g-conspiracy-theories-man-made-uk-poll-bleach-a9484066.html google scholar
  • Mancosu, M., Vassallo, S., & Vezzoni, C. (2017). Believing in conspiracy theories: Evidence from an exploratory analysis of Italian survey data. South European Society and Politics, 22(2), 327-344. https://doi.org/10.108 0/13608746.2017.1359894 google scholar
  • March, E., & Springer, J. (2019). Belief in conspiracy theories: The predictive role of schizotypy, Machiavellianism, and primary psychopathy. PLoS One, 14(12), https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0225964 google scholar
  • Mashuri, A., & Zaduqisti, E. (2014). We believe in your conspiracy if we distrust you: The role of intergroup distrust in structuring the effect of Islamic identification, competitive victimhood, and group incompatibility on belief in a conspiracy theory. Journal of Tropical Psychology, 4(11), 1-14. https://doi.org/10.1017/ jtp.2014.11 google scholar
  • McCauley, C., & Jacques, S. (1979). The popularity of conspiracy theories of presidential assassination: A Bayesian analysis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37(5), 637-644. https://doi. org/10.1037/0022-3514.37.5.637 google scholar
  • McHoskey, J. W. (1995). Case closed? On the John F. Kennedy assassination: Biased assimilation of evidence and attitude polarization. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 17(3), 395-409. https://doi.org/10.1207/ s15324834basp1703_7 google scholar
  • Miller, J. M., Saunders, K. L., & Farhart, C. E. (2016). Conspiracy endorsement as motivated reasoning: The moderating roles of political knowledge and trust. American Journal of Political Science, 60(4), 824-844. google scholar
  • Mitchell, A., & Oliphant, J. B. (2020). Americans immersed in COVID-19 news; Most think media are doing fairly well covering it. Pew Research Center [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://www. journalism. org/2020/03/18/americans-immersed-in-covid-19-news-most-think-media-are-doing-fairly-well-covering-it google scholar
  • Nattrass, N. (2013). The AIDS conspiracy: Science fights back. New York, NY: Columbia University Press. google scholar
  • Newheiser, A., Farias, M., & Tausch, N. (2011). The functional nature of conspiracy beliefs: Examining the underpinnings of belief in the Da Vinci Code conspiracy. Personality and Individual Differences, 51(8), 1007-1011. https://doi.org/10.1016Zj.paid.2011.08.011 google scholar
  • Oliver, J. E., & Wood, T. J. (2014a). Conspiracy theories and the paranoid style(s) of mass opinion. American Journal of Political Science, 58(4), 952-966. https://doi.org/10.1111/ajps.12084 google scholar
  • Pasek, J., Stark, T. H., Krosnick, J. A., & Tompson, T. (2015). What motivates a conspiracy theory? Birther beliefs, partisanship, liberal-conservative ideology, and anti-Black attitudes. Electoral Studies, 40, 482-489. google scholar
  • Van Prooijen, J.-W. (2018). The psychology of conspiracy theories. Oxon, England: Routledge. google scholar
  • van Prooijen, J.-W., Krouwel, A. P. M., & Pollet, T. (2015). Political extremism predicts belief in conspiracy theories. google scholar
  • Social Psychological and Personality Science, 6(5), 570-578. https://doi.org/10.1177/1948550614567356 google scholar
  • van Prooijen, J.-W. (2017). Why education predicts decreased belief in conspiracy theories. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 31(1), 50-58. https://doi.org/10.1002/acp.3301 google scholar
  • van Prooijen, J. W., & Douglas, K. M. (2018). Belief in conspiracy theories: Basic principles of an emerging research domain. European journal of social psychology, 48(7), 897-908. google scholar
  • Siegel, J. D., Rhinehart, E., Jackson, M. & Chiarello, L. (2007). 2007 guideline for isolation precautions: preventing transmission of infectious agents in health care settings. Am J Infect Control, 35(Suppl. 2), 65-164. google scholar
  • Smallpage, S. M., Enders, A. M., & Uscinski, J. E. (2017). The partisan contours of conspiracy theory beliefs. Research & Politics, 4, https://doi.org/10.1177/2053168017746554 google scholar
  • Swami, V., Pietschnig, J., Tran, U. S., Nader, I. W., Stieger, S., & Voracek, M. (2013). Lunar lies: The impact of informational framing and individual differences in shaping conspiracist beliefs about the moon landings. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 27(1), 71-80. https://doi.org/10.1002/acp.2873 google scholar
  • Swami, V., Voracek, M., Stieger, S., Tran, U. S., & Furnham, A. (2014). Analytic thinking reduces belief in conspiracy theories. Cognition, 133(3), 572-585. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2014.08.006. google scholar
  • Uscinski, J. E., & Parent, J. M. (2014). American conspiracy theories. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. google scholar
  • Uscinski, J. E., Douglas, K., & Lewandowsky, S. (2017). Climate change conspiracy theories. In Oxford Research google scholar
  • Encyclopedia of Climate Science. https://doi.org/10.1093/acrefore/9780190228620.013.328 google scholar


İstanbul Üniversitesi Yayınları, uluslararası yayıncılık standartları ve etiğine uygun olarak, yüksek kalitede bilimsel dergi ve kitapların yayınlanmasıyla giderek artan bilimsel bilginin yayılmasına katkıda bulunmayı amaçlamaktadır. İstanbul Üniversitesi Yayınları açık erişimli, ticari olmayan, bilimsel yayıncılığı takip etmektedir.