CHFA | Psychology Department Showcase: Projects In-Process

Title

Beyond the Water Cooler: Relationship between Gossip and Conspiracy Theories

Academic Level at Time of Presentation

Graduate

Major

General Experimental Psychology

2nd Student Academic Level at Time of Presentation

Graduate

2nd Student Major

General Experimental Psychology

List all Project Mentors & Advisor(s)

Jana Hackathorn, PhD

Presentation Format

Poster Presentation

Abstract/Description

Problem or purpose: Conspiracy theories (Douglas et al., 2019) and gossip (Grosser et al., 2010) will often be taken as truth when the information comes from a source viewed as trustworthy or like-minded. Conspiracy theorizing is likely to arise in the workplace when supervisors are authoritarian and when employees feel controlled or marginalized (van Prooijen & de Vries, 2016). This study uses a social identity approach to investigate the relationship between Workplace Gossip (WG) and micro-level conspiratorial beliefs. We predict that organizational conspiracy theory beliefs will positively correlate with negative gossip about supervisors and positive gossip about coworkers. Conversely, we expect organizational conspiracy theory beliefs will be negatively associated with positive gossip about supervisors and negative gossip about coworkers.

Procedure: Participants (N = 78) completed an online questionnaire assessing demographics, WG (Brady et al., 2017), and belief in organizational conspiracy theories (Douglas & Leite, 2016).

Results. Data collection is ongoing. Preliminary analyses for all hypotheses were examined using a series of Pearson’s r bivariate correlations. Results indicated that organizational conspiracy theory beliefs (M = 3.63, SD = 1.69) were positively related to negative gossip about a supervisor, M = 2.14, SD = 1.40; r = .28, p = .006, as well as positive gossip about a co-worker, M = 2.98, SD = 1.63; r = .26, p = .011. However, organizational conspiracy theory beliefs were neither related to positive gossip about a supervisor, M = 2.66, SD = 1.24; r = -.03, p = .383, nor negative gossip about a co-worker, M = 2.13, SD = 1.27, r = .15, p = .097. A simultaneous linear regression analysis indicated that the overall model was significant, F(4, 73) = 3.34, p = .014 (R2 = .16). The results suggest that positive gossip about a co-worker explained a significant portion of the variance in organizational conspiracy theory beliefs, t = 2.41, p = .019.

Conclusions and implications. The current study expands on the growing body of research exploring the extent to which conspiracy theory beliefs are prevalent in organizational settings and associated implications such as turnover (Douglas & Leite, 2016; van Prooijen & de Vries, 2016). The results from this study will extend current knowledge regarding gossip as a potential antecedent of organizational conspiratorial beliefs, improving agencies’ ability to predict and prevent them.

Location

Waterfield Gallery

Start Date

November 2021

End Date

November 2021

Fall Scholars Week 2021 Event

Psychology: Projects In-Progress

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Nov 16th, 9:30 AM Nov 16th, 12:30 PM

Beyond the Water Cooler: Relationship between Gossip and Conspiracy Theories

Waterfield Gallery

Problem or purpose: Conspiracy theories (Douglas et al., 2019) and gossip (Grosser et al., 2010) will often be taken as truth when the information comes from a source viewed as trustworthy or like-minded. Conspiracy theorizing is likely to arise in the workplace when supervisors are authoritarian and when employees feel controlled or marginalized (van Prooijen & de Vries, 2016). This study uses a social identity approach to investigate the relationship between Workplace Gossip (WG) and micro-level conspiratorial beliefs. We predict that organizational conspiracy theory beliefs will positively correlate with negative gossip about supervisors and positive gossip about coworkers. Conversely, we expect organizational conspiracy theory beliefs will be negatively associated with positive gossip about supervisors and negative gossip about coworkers.

Procedure: Participants (N = 78) completed an online questionnaire assessing demographics, WG (Brady et al., 2017), and belief in organizational conspiracy theories (Douglas & Leite, 2016).

Results. Data collection is ongoing. Preliminary analyses for all hypotheses were examined using a series of Pearson’s r bivariate correlations. Results indicated that organizational conspiracy theory beliefs (M = 3.63, SD = 1.69) were positively related to negative gossip about a supervisor, M = 2.14, SD = 1.40; r = .28, p = .006, as well as positive gossip about a co-worker, M = 2.98, SD = 1.63; r = .26, p = .011. However, organizational conspiracy theory beliefs were neither related to positive gossip about a supervisor, M = 2.66, SD = 1.24; r = -.03, p = .383, nor negative gossip about a co-worker, M = 2.13, SD = 1.27, r = .15, p = .097. A simultaneous linear regression analysis indicated that the overall model was significant, F(4, 73) = 3.34, p = .014 (R2 = .16). The results suggest that positive gossip about a co-worker explained a significant portion of the variance in organizational conspiracy theory beliefs, t = 2.41, p = .019.

Conclusions and implications. The current study expands on the growing body of research exploring the extent to which conspiracy theory beliefs are prevalent in organizational settings and associated implications such as turnover (Douglas & Leite, 2016; van Prooijen & de Vries, 2016). The results from this study will extend current knowledge regarding gossip as a potential antecedent of organizational conspiratorial beliefs, improving agencies’ ability to predict and prevent them.