#83413 | AsPredicted

'Conspiracy beliefs, rumination, catastrophizing, distraction - experiment'
(AsPredicted #83413)

Created:       12/16/2021 08:24 AM (PT)

This is an anonymized version of the pre-registration.  It was created by the author(s) to use during peer-review.
A non-anonymized version (containing author names) should be made available by the authors when the work it supports is made public.

1) Have any data been collected for this study already?
No, no data have been collected for this study yet.

2) What's the main question being asked or hypothesis being tested in this study?
This study tests whether emotion regulation strategies influence the adoption of conspiracy beliefs. We expect that both ruminating and catastrophizing, respectively, will increase conspiracy beliefs as compared to a control and a distraction group.

3) Describe the key dependent variable(s) specifying how they will be measured.
The dependent variable consists of six items measuring a) specific conspiracy beliefs about the scenario (three items, e.g. "Social media firms are secretly activating smartphone microphones to monitor the whole population" (Scenario B)) and b) more general conspiracy beliefs than can be applied to both scenarios (three items, e.g. "There are many important things about this that the public will never know about").

4) How many and which conditions will participants be assigned to?
Participants will be randomly assigned to one of four conditions: control (CG), distraction (Distr), rumination (Rum) and catastrophizing (Cat). The scenario is a fictional newspaper report about social media platforms being under suspicion to have secretly activated users' smartphones.
Rumination will be induced by asking participants to think about two questions ("Why did this happen?", "Which concerns does this cause you?") repeatedly. First, they will write down spontaneous thoughts, then they will think again about each question more thoroughly and write down everything that comes to mind, and lastly, participants are asked to think about these questions again jointly, and to write down their thoughts in one paragraph.
Catastrophizing will be induced by asking participants to a) think about the worst possible explanation for the events in the scenario (worst case scenario), b) write down what would be the worst consequences if this worst-case scenario were true and c) write down what it would mean for them personally if the worst consequences happened exactly as they imagined.
Distraction will be induced by asking participants to write down as many terms as they can about the following categories: European capitals (max. 20), German chancellors (max. 9), and words that start with J (max. 20). In between, they are asked to remember a number sequence and build its sum.
The control group will proceed to the dependent variables right after reading the scenario.

5) Specify exactly which analyses you will conduct to examine the main question/hypothesis.
We will use a one-way between-subjects ANOVA to analyze our results. We will use a Tukey-Kramer HSD test to conduct all possible pairwise comparisons.

6) Describe exactly how outliers will be defined and handled, and your precise rule(s) for excluding observations.
We will exclude participants who failed the following attention check: "You read a text about certain firms. What kind of firms was it about?"
We will also exclude participants who spent less than 60 seconds total on the pages of the rumination/catastrophizing/distraction manipulation, and participants who indicated at the end that they did not participate seriously. We will also check the open text fields of the manipulations, and exclude participants who wrote down unrelated content or nonsense.

7) How many observations will be collected or what will determine sample size?
No need to justify decision, but be precise about exactly how the number will be determined.

We will aim for a sample size of n = 100 per group (N = 400).

8) Anything else you would like to pre-register?
(e.g., secondary analyses, variables collected for exploratory purposes, unusual analyses planned?)

To assess whether the manipulations were successful, we will ask the extent to which participants ruminated and catastrophized in all groups. We will consider the manipulation of rumination successful if the rumination group ruminated significantly more than the control and distraction group. We will consider the manipulation of catastrophizing successful if the catastrophizing group catastrophized significantly more than control and distraction group. We further assess the state PTQ to explore if both manipulations of rumination and catastrophizing increased perseverative thinking. We further test whether distraction decreases conspiracy beliefs as compared to the control group.