As Americans look back on the fourth anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic, new research from Rutgers University–Newark sheds light on why some people succumb to conspiracy theories and bogus beliefs and others don’t.

Studies by psychologists Kent Harber and Valeria Vila, recently published in the “Journal of Social and Political Psychology,’‘ found that people with high levels of emotional distress, even distress unrelated to COVID, were more prone to embrace supernatural explanations for the pandemic, conspiracy theories, and false remedies.

Highly distressed people were also more likely to deny COVID-related facts, such as the respiratory risk that COVID presented or the benefits of basic hygiene. However, psychological resources such as hope, purpose, and self-worth had an inoculating effect. People with more of these resources were resistant to bogus beliefs and were less likely to deny COVID facts. To read the full story.