Comparative optimism and perceptions of specific online risks

Betts, L. ORCID: 0000-0002-6147-8089, Abell, L. ORCID: 0000-0001-6230-8551 and Buglass, S. ORCID: 0000-0002-1079-8461, 2023. Comparative optimism and perceptions of specific online risks. Journal of Technology in Behavioral Science. ISSN 2366-5963

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Adults hold optimistic beliefs for online behaviours, displaying a general tendency to believe that they are less likely to experience general risks than others. Study 1 explored whether young adults displayed comparative optimism judgements for four types of specific risks that were relevant to a UK sample. Study 2 addressed methodological weaknesses associated with assessing comparative optimism. Study 1 explored 227 (194 female, 31 male, 1 non-binary, and 1 gender not disclosed) young adults’ (MAge = 20.75, SDAge = 4.22) comparative optimistic beliefs for unwanted contact, hoaxes, behavioural, and sexual online risks that were contextualised to the UK. In study 2, young adults (134 female, 30 male, 1 non-binary, and 1 gender fluid, MAge = 20.72, SDAge = 3.39) provided judgements for four online risks for the general public and the comparator groups used in study 1. Participants were then provided with the prevalence rate for each risk according to data for the UK and then asked to repeat the judgments for each comparator group. Study 1 identified optimistic beliefs across the four risks, with family and the self judged to be less at risk. Study 2 revealed that again family was perceived to be at the lowest risk followed by the self. Knowledge of the actual risk led to a reduction in perceived risk for unwanted contact and hoaxes but little change for behavioural or sexual risks. Together, the findings have implications for understanding perceptions of online risk and how campaigns to promote digital safety are designed.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Journal of Technology in Behavioral Science
Creators: Betts, L., Abell, L. and Buglass, S.
Publisher: Springer
Date: 22 June 2023
ISSN: 2366-5963
Rights: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Jonathan Gallacher
Date Added: 26 Jun 2023 16:09
Last Modified: 26 Jun 2023 16:09

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