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Belief Regulation; Values, Beliefs, and Behaviors

COVID-19 Research Area(s): Culture, Social Impacts

Researchers have commonly assumed that people care about their beliefs being supported by evidence, and that when they have motivated beliefs that are not supported by evidence, they are unaware of it. However, new research shows that people can actually be aware of their unfounded beliefs, maintaining them even after acknowledging they are not supported by the evidence, a phenomenon called acquiescence (Risen, 2016 & 2017). These researchers argue that individual differences in support for evidence and rationality (i.e., Epistemic Value) could explain these findings. In unrelated work, others have measured support for Epistemic Value, and found that it predicts various superstitious and (un)scientific beliefs. However, this work remains limited by not acknowledging the possibility that people may have other, non-epistemic values about belief. The current research attempts to explain acquiescence and motivated beliefs by proposing that people have non-epistemic values. That is, that people think it is valuable and appropriate to believe things for non-epistemic reasons, such as a belief supporting a moral agenda (Moral Value), a belief agreeing with the opinions of ingroup members (Affiliative Value), or a belief making one feel happy and secure (Emotional Value). From a functionalist perspective about belief, people should be willing to endorse these non-epistemic values, as beliefs do, in fact, serve these other functions. In the current study, we want to see if people who endorse these non-epistemic values have been buffered from the negative consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.