Beliefs in conspiracy theories among African Americans: A comparison of elites and masses

  • Simmons W
  • Parsons S
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Abstract

Several studies have reported a widespread belief in conspiracy theories among African Americans. Such theories have been shown to have possible deleterious effects, especially when they deal with HIV/AIDS. It has been conjectured that African-American elites could play a role in dispelling these beliefs, unless, of course, they believe in these theories themselves. To examine this possibility the present study examines the conspiratorial beliefs of African-American locally elected officials in Louisiana and compares them with a previous study of African-American churchgoers in the same state. A systematic sample of 400 African-American locally elected officials was drawn from a list of all African-American elected officials in the state and 170 officials completed and returned the mail survey. Confirmatory factor analysis and OLS regression were used to analyze the attitude structure and determinants of beliefs, respectively. The locally elected officials believe in these theories as much as the churchgoers and the structures of their beliefs are also very similar. In some very important ways, however, the predictors of these beliefs differ between the two samples. Our findings suggest that beliefs in conspiracy theories are widespread and that African-American locally elected officials will not seek to dispel these beliefs. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR] Copyright of Social Science Quarterly (Blackwell Publishing Limited) is the property of Wiley-Blackwell and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use. This abstract may be abridged. No warranty is given about the accuracy of the copy. Users should refer to the original published version of the material for the full abstract. (Copyright applies to all Abstracts.)

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Authors

  • William Paul Simmons

  • Sharon Parsons

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