Understanding Who is Blamed for COVID-19: Dynamics of Conspiratorial Beliefs, Blame Attribution, Perceived Economic Threat, and Consumer Ethnocentrism

Taylor and Francis Group
Publication Type:
Journal Article
International Journal of Strategic Communication, 2023
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This study investigates individuals’ conspiratorial beliefs about China’s role in the COVID-19 pandemic and their effects on their attitudes toward China. While many conspiracy theories about China had been propagated on both traditional and social media, little is known about how this affected individuals’ views on China’s responsibility in the COVID-19 pandemic and the effects of such views. An online survey was conducted with a nationally representative sample of 521 Australian citizens in October 2021. The findings showed that individuals who believed in conspiracy theories regarding China’s role in causing the COVID-19 pandemic (a) attributed blame to China, (b) perceived China as an economic threat to Australia, and (c) exhibited stronger preferences for Australian products over Chinese products. This study will contribute to strategic communication scholarship and practice with key insights into how and why specific groups of individuals develop or adopt conspiratorial beliefs during a crisis
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