Public policy and conspiracies: The case of mandates

Stephan Lewandowsky*, Dawn Holford, Philipp Schmid

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
72 Downloads (Pure)


Although conspiracy theories are only endorsed by a minority, conspiracy theories can nonetheless compromise public health measures to control the COVID-19 pandemic. Individuals who endorse conspiracy theories were less likely to wear masks, comply with social distancing, or get vaccinated. This poses a challenge to public health policy, in particular because vaccine uptake lags behind targets because of resistance from a relatively small, but highly vocal, number of people. One policy tool is to enact vaccine mandates, which, while controversial, have successfully increased vaccination uptake. In this article, we review the evidence about whether mandates can be successful, and whether they trigger increased opposition and conspiracy beliefs. We discuss the implications for using mandates in public health policy and argue that decisions about mandates need to be weighed against the consequences of alternative measures — which may also increase conspiracy beliefs albeit for different reasons.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101427
JournalCurrent Opinion in Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jul 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
SL was supported by funding from the Humboldt Foundation in Germany and is a beneficiary of the ERC Advanced Grant 101020961 (PRODEMINFO). All authors were partially supported by Horizon 2020 grant 964728 (JITSUVAX).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Author(s)

Structured keywords

  • Cognitive Science
  • TeDCog


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