Is the coronavirus created by the government to control us? Critical thinking and conspiracy beliefs among Norwegian youth in upper secondary schools

Authors

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.11576/jsse-6295

Keywords:

 Conspiracy theories,  Conspiracy beliefs,  Critical thinking,  Social studies didactics,  Youth

Abstract

  • Research on belief in conspiracy theories among youth is an unexplored field in the Nordic context.
  • Research also indicates a negative correlation between critical thinking skills and conspiracy beliefs.
  • The results show that more than 50% of the pupils report having learned ‘much’ or ‘very much’ about critical thinking, but very little about conspiracy theories.
  • The results show that the pupils believe in conspiracy theories only to a minor extent, but there are significant differences in the degree of conspiracy beliefs.

Purpose:

The aim of this article is to contribute new knowledge about critical thinking in social studies and conspiracy beliefs in Norwegian schools. We explore Norwegian high school pupils’ self-reported learning about critical thinking in social studies and their attitudes toward conspiracy theories.

Design/methodology/approach: The survey focuses on what the pupils have learned about critical thinking and conspiracy theories in social studies.

Findings: The results show that the pupils believe in conspiracy theories only to a minor extent. We found no significant association between how much they think they have learned about critical thinking, and conspiracy beliefs. However, there are significant differences in the degree of conspiracy beliefs and several of the background variables.

Research limitations/implications: The findings are discussed in terms of the increasing focus on critical thinking as part of the social science subjects in school. We suggest that conspiracy theories should be taught both with an empathic strategy and with a clear focus on critical thinking skills, rather than through a confrontational approach.

 

Author Biographies

Katja H-W Skjølberg

Katja H-W Skjølberg is an associate professor in political science at the University of Agder, Norway. Her research interests are within social studies didactics, with a particular focus on controversial issues and the role of social studies in prevention of radicalization, extreme attitudes and actions.

Irene Trysnes, Associate professor

Irene Trysnes is an associate professor in social science and didactics at the University of Agder, Norway. Her research interests are within social studies didactics, controversial issues, gender and equality, religion and cultural sociology. 

Elise Frølich Furrebøe

 Elise Frølich Furrebøe holds a PhD in behavior analysis. She recently completed a postdoctoral project at the University of Agder, Norway. Her research interests are in the areas of literacy, academic performance, self-efficacy, and feed-back.

Downloads

Metrics
Views/Downloads
  • Abstract
    305
  • PDF
    153
Further information

Published

2023-12-20

How to Cite

Skjølberg, K. H.-W., Trysnes, I., & Furrebøe, E. F. (2023). Is the coronavirus created by the government to control us? Critical thinking and conspiracy beliefs among Norwegian youth in upper secondary schools. JSSE - Journal of Social Science Education, 22(4). https://doi.org/10.11576/jsse-6295

Issue

Section

Article