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Research project

Understanding the role of perceived risk in dishonest decision making during a crisis

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  • Lead researcher:
  • Status:
    Not active

Project overview

Dishonest behaviours such as vaccine fraud and financial fraud created substantial problems during the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only did such dishonesty lead to the loss of billions of dollars but, more significantly, it prevented some of society’s most vulnerable people from accessing vital risk management resources (e.g., vaccines). In a series of experimental studies, this project sheds new light on the central role that risk perceptions play in dishonest decision making during a crises. To date, our findings indicate that heightened health risk perceptions are positively related to lying to obtain a COVID vaccine (Studies 1 and 2), but that heightened financial risk perceptions are not related to lying to access COVID furlough payments (Study 2). Our results also suggest that both the perceived risk and objective probability of dishonesty being detected have a negative relationship with dishonest behaviour (Study 3). Furthermore, across all studies, we have found that (i) dishonesty has been consistently evident in approximately one-third of all our samples, and (ii) greater dishonesty has been associated with older age. This project will enable us to identify how organizations and policy makers might better deter and detect dishonest behaviours during future pandemics and similar crises.


Lead researcher

Dr Ian Dawson

Associate Professor

Research interests

  • Risk perception
  • Risk communication
  • Judgment and decision making
Connect with Ian

Collaborating research institutes, centres and groups

Research outputs