Testing the underlying structure of unfounded beliefs about COVID-19 around the world

Paweł Brzóska, Magdalena Żemojtel-Piotrowska*, Jarosław Piotrowski, Bartłomiej Nowak, Peter K. Jonason, Constantine Sedikides, Mladen Adamovic, Kokou A. Atitsogbe, Oli Ahmed, Uzma Azam, Sergiu Bălțătescu, Konstantin Bochaver, Aidos Bolatov, Mario Bonato, Victor Counted, Trawin Chaleeraktrakoon, Jano Ramos-Diaz, Sonya Dragova-Koleva, Walaa Labib M. Eldesoki, Carla Sofia EstevesValdiney V. Gouveia, Pablo Perez de Leon, Dzintra Iliško, Jesus Alfonso D. Datu, Fanli Jia, Veljko Jovanović, Tomislav Jukić, Narine Khachatryan, Monika Kovacs, Uri Lifshin, Aitor Larzabal Fernandez, Kadi Liik, Sadia Malik, Chanki Moon, Stephan Muehlbacher, Reza Najafi, Emre Oruç, Joonha Park, Iva Poláčková Šolcová, Rahkman Ardi, Ognjen Ridic, Goran Ridic, Yadgar Ismail Said, Andrej Starc, Delia Stefenel, Kiều Thị Thanh Trà, Habib Tiliouine, Robert Tomšik, Jorge Torres-Marin, Charles S. Umeh, Eduardo Wills-Herrera, Anna Wlodarczyk, Zahir Vally, Illia Yahiiaiev

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal article (peer-reviewed)Journal article

1 Citation (Scopus)


Unfounded—conspiracy and health—beliefs about COVID-19 have accompanied the pandemic worldwide. Here, we examined cross-nationally the structure and correlates of these beliefs with an 8-item scale, using a multigroup confirmatory factor analysis. We obtained a two-factor model of unfounded (conspiracy and health) beliefs with good internal structure (average CFI = 0.98, RMSEA = 0.05, SRMR = 0.04), but a high correlation between the two factors (average latent factor correlation = 0.57). This model was replicable across 50 countries (total N = 13,579), as evidenced by metric invariance between countries (CFI = 0.96, RMSEA = 0.06, SRMS = 0.07) as well as scalar invariance across genders (CFI = 0.98, RMSEA = 0.04, SRMS = 0.03) and educational levels (CFI = 0.98, RMSEA = 0.04, SRMS = 0.03). Also, lower levels of education, more fear of COVID-19, and more cynicism were weakly associated with stronger conspiracy and health beliefs. The study contributes to knowledge about the structure of unfounded beliefs, and reveals the potential relevance of affective (i.e., fear of COVID-19) and cognitive (i.e., cynicism) factors along with demographics, in endorsing such beliefs. In summary, we obtained cross-cultural evidence for the distinctiveness of unfounded conspiracy and health beliefs about COVID-19 in terms of their structure and correlates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)301-326
Number of pages26
JournalThinking and Reasoning
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023


  • conspiracy beliefs
  • COVID-19
  • cross-cultural
  • health beliefs
  • Unfounded beliefs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Philosophy
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)


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