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Brief Research Report ARTICLE

Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.646558

Risk perception in a real-world situation (COVID-19): how it changes from 18 to 87 years old. Provisionally accepted The final, formatted version of the article will be published soon. Notify me

 Alessia Rosi1*,  Floris Van Vugt1, 2, Serena Lecce1,  Irene Ceccato3,  Martine Vallarino1, Filippo Rapisarda4,  Tomaso Vecchi1, 5 and Elena Cavallini1
  • 1Department of Brain and Behavioral Sciences, University of Pavia, Italy
  • 2Département de Psychologie, Faculté des Arts et des Sciences, Université de Montréal, Canada
  • 3Department of Neuroscience, Imaging and Clinical Sciences, University of Studies G. d'Annunzio Chieti and Pescara, Italy
  • 4Sociosfera ONLUS SCS, Italy
  • 5Cognitive Psychology Unit, IRCCS Mondino Foundation, Italy

Studies on age-related differences in risk perception in a real-world situation, such as the recent COVID-19 outbreak, showed that the risk perception of getting COVID-19 tends to decrease as age increases. This finding raised the question on what factors could explain risk perception in older adults. The present study examined age-related differences in risk perception in the early stages of COVID-19 lockdown, analyzing variables that can explain the differences in perception of risk at different ages.
A total of 1,765 adults aged between 18 to 87 years old completed an online survey assessing perceived risk severity and risk vulnerability of getting COVID-19, sociodemographic status, emotional state, experience relating to COVID-19, and physical health status.
Results showed that the older the participants, the lower the perceived vulnerability to getting COVID-19, but the higher the perceived severity. Different predictors explain the perception of risk severity and vulnerability at different ages. Overall, self-reported anxiety over the pandemic is a crucial predictor in explaining risk perceptions in all age groups. Theoretical and practical implications of the empirical findings are discussed.

Keywords: Risk Perception, COVID-19, Anxiety, emotion, availability heuristic

Received: 04 Jan 2021; Accepted: 08 Feb 2021.

Copyright: © 2021 Rosi, Van Vugt, Lecce, Ceccato, Vallarino, Rapisarda, Vecchi and Cavallini. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: PhD. Alessia Rosi, Department of Brain and Behavioral Sciences, University of Pavia, Pavia, 27100, Lombardy, Italy,