Football and a conspiracy. Or controversy. Mix all three together and you’ve got an irresistible combination.
The researchers at SurveyMonkey recently collaborated with three political science professors at Dartmouth College to find out how the football-loving public feels about the New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s “Deflategate” debacle.
Results from that study were recently published in Research and Politics. What’d they learn? The public is still very divided over the controversy.
Using data collected via SurveyMonkey Audience, we decided to ask nearly 3,000 people (more than 1400 were New England residents) their thoughts on the conspiracy overall. We also asked about their interest in the NFL and what their predispositions might be towards conspiracy as a whole.
As you probably would expect, Patriots fans are less likely to believe that Brady actually broke the rule but more likely to think that the NFL was trying to punish Brady in order to distract people from the league’s other problems. Also, they were less likely to believe the judge’s ruling overturning Brady’s suspension has more to do with money and influence than with the facts of the case.
A more important finding from this study is that the divide in conspiracy beliefs is larger among more knowledgeable fans. This suggests that as people examine the evidence, their views become more polarized rather than converged.
Rather than processing information in an objective way, people tend to be biased as they view the information about Deflategate. Those who endorsed conspiracy theories in genera were more likely to endorse Deflategate conspiracy claims as well.
Questions/comments about our methodology? Ask the Survey Research team below! They’re here to help.