Which groups of Americans are most likely to believe conspiracy theories?



The latest Economist/YouGov Poll asked Americans their opinions on prominent conspiracy theories relating to vaccine-autism links, sex-trafficking among top Democrats, and a secretive shadow government ruling the world. To understand what drives belief in these theories, we looked at how opinions vary based on the social and demographic groups Americans say they belong to, as well as some of their other views and behaviors. 

The results of our analysis suggest that belief in some conspiracies is closely linked to views on QAnon, an internet conspiracy theory and political movement that first emerged in 2017 on the anonymous website 4chan. Two-thirds of Americans say they have heard about QAnon and 14% of those who have heard of it say they have a somewhat or very favorable opinion of it. One in five Americans say they know someone – themselves, a family member, a friend, or an acquaintance – who supports QAnon.  

Here is a closer look at who believes in three popular conspiracy theories, in the order of most to least widely believed by Americans.

Belief in a secret group of world rulers

Two in five Americans say that it is definitely or probably true that “regardless of who is officially in charge of the government and other organizations, there is a single group of people who secretly control events and rule the world together.” The share who agree with this view has risen 9 percentage points since we asked about it last summer

Of the groups we examined, the three that are most likely to say there is a secretive shadow government ruling the world include:

  • People who have a favorable view of QAnon

  • People who say they get their news from conservative websites

  • People who say they will not get vaccinated against COVID-19

The groups that are least likely to say this is true are:

Belief that top Democrats are sex traffickers

Three in 10 Americans say that it is definitely or probably true that “top Democrats are involved in elite child sex-trafficking rings,” a specific element of the QAnon conspiracy theory that hasn’t been substantiated by any national media reporting or established groups that fight sex trafficking. When we asked a similar question of registered voters in 2020, slightly fewer (25%) said they thought this was true. 

Of the many groups we looked at, the three that are most likely to say that top Democrats are involved in child sex-trafficking are:

  • People who have a favorable view of QAnon

  • People who are very conservative

  • People who say they get their news from conservative websites

The groups that are least likely to say this is true are: 

Belief that vaccines cause autism

One in five Americans say that it is definitely or probably true that “vaccines have been shown to cause autism.” The share who agree with this view — widely disputed by major public health organizations — has declined 11 percentage points since we last asked about it in 2016, despite widespread anti-vaccine sentiment around COVID-19.

Of the groups we looked at, the three that are most likely to say vaccines have been shown to cause autism include: 

  • People who have a favorable view of QAnon

  • People who say they will not get vaccinated against COVID-19

  • People who identify as very conservative

The groups that are least likely to say this is true are: 

  • People who voted for Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election

  • People who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19

  • People with a postgraduate degree

– Carl Bialik and Kathy Frankovic contributed to this article

See the toplines and crosstabs from this Economist/YouGov Poll

Methodology: The Economist survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,500 U.S. adult citizens interviewed online between March 26 – 29, 2022. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the 2018 American Community Survey, conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, as well as 2016 and 2020 Presidential votes (or non-votes). Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all U.S. citizens. The margin of error is approximately 3% for the overall sample.

Image: Getty



Source link

Leave a Comment