WASHINGTON (WOOD) — A Pew Research Center exploration of which Americans believe a conspiracy theory about COVID-19 found notable differences along education and political lines.
The June study, which is again making the rounds on social media, is part of Pew’s American News Pathways Project focusing on the public’s perception of news media and information.
It narrowed in on one theory that “powerful people” planned the pandemic. Pew surveyed 9,654 Americans. In total, 71% of them had heard of the theory. Of those surveyed, 5% of people believed it was definitely true and 20% believed it was probably true.
Of those surveyed, 48% who stopped schooling after high school or never got their diploma believed the theory was definitely or probably true. Among people who took some college courses, that number dropped to 38%. Only 24% of respondents with a bachelor’s degree believed the theory and just 15% of people with post-graduate degrees.
The study also found conservatives are more likely to believe the theory than liberals. It found 37% of people who identify as Republicans or lean conservative believed the theory, compared to just 18% of people who identify as Democrats or lean liberal.
The more conservative a respondent’s beliefs were, the more likely they were to believe the theory. Of those surveyed, 37% of conservative Republicans saw at least some truth in the theory, compared to 29% of moderate or liberal Republicans, 24% of moderate or conservative Democrats and 10% of liberal Democrats.
Differences were less pronounced when data was broken down by race and gender. Roughly a third of Black and Hispanic adults (33% and 34%, respectfully) say the theory is probably or definitely true. Twenty-two percent of white adults and 19% of Asian adults believe the theory. The survey also found women were more likely to believe the theory than men, 29% to 21%.