Attitude inoculation within gender equality training as a preventative tool for gender-based conspiracy theory beliefs

Bethan Iley*, Ioana Latu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

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Equality, diversity and inclusion initiatives are a regular feature of organisational diversity strategies, yet often receive backlash (Flood et al., 2021). In some cases, this can include allegations that a secret, malevolent group are using such initiatives to further their own agenda (Douglas et al., 2019). In male-dominated sectors such as Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), this most often applies to gender equality initiatives, which conspiracy theories accuse of being a front for extreme feminist or Marxist ideologies. These conspiracy theories have potential to undermine organisational progress on equality and diversity issues, yet often remain unchallenged. One promising intervention against conspiracy theory beliefs is attitude inoculation, whereby strategies used to spread conspiracy theories are highlighted in order to raise awareness of them and promote critical thinking about their content (Lewandowsky & van der Linden, 2021). However, its effectiveness for conspiracy theories linked to equality, diversity and inclusion issues remains untested. Here, we present two studies which aim to integrate attitude inoculation into gender equality training. The first will provide an empirical test of the efficacy of attitude inoculation for tacking gender-based conspiracy theories, using an online experiment with STEM workers and students. The second will integrate this intervention into a game-based training framework, assessing its effectiveness using a mixed methods approach. These findings will provide a starting point to addressing the issue of conspiracy theories about equality, diversity and inclusion policies and initiatives within organisations.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 24 Aug 2023
EventEuropean Conference on Educational Research 2023 - University of Glasgow, Glasgow, United Kingdom
Duration: 22 Aug 202325 Aug 2023


ConferenceEuropean Conference on Educational Research 2023
Abbreviated titleECER 2023
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


  • gender equality
  • backlash
  • conspiracy theories
  • attitude inoculation
  • game-based training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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