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Mitigating and managing COVID-19 conspiratorial beliefs
  1. Benjamin J Dow1,
  2. Cynthia S Wang2,
  3. Jennifer A Whitson3,
  4. Yingli Deng4
  1. 1Cox School of Business, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas, USA
  2. 2Dispute Resolution Research Center, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, USA
  3. 3UCLA Anderson School of Management, Los Angeles, California, USA
  4. 4Durham University Business School, Durham, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Benjamin J Dow, Cox School of Business, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, TX, USA; bdow{at}


Background/Aim Belief in COVID-19 related conspiracy theories is a widespread and consequential problem that healthcare leaders need to confront. In this article, we draw on insights from social psychology and organisational behaviour to offer evidence-based advice that healthcare leaders can use to reduce the spread of conspiratorial beliefs and ameliorate their negative effects, both during the current pandemic and beyond.

Conclusion Leaders can effectively combat conspiratorial beliefs by intervening early and bolstering people’s sense of control. Leaders can also address some of the problematic behaviours that result from conspiratorial beliefs by introducing incentives and mandates (e.g., vaccine mandates). However, because of the limitations of incentives and mandates, we suggest that leaders complement these techniques with interventions that leverage the power of social norms and increase people’s connections to others.

  • COVID-19
  • management
  • medical leadership

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  • Correction notice This article has been corrected since it first published. Author name 'Yingli Deng' has been updated.

  • Contributors All authors contributed to the development of the ideas in this paper, the review of the relevant literature, and the drafting of the manuscript.

  • Funding Preparation of this manuscript was supported by funding from the Peter G. Peterson Foundation Pandemic Response Policy Research Fund (award number: 21048).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.