Covid-19 in mind: how job loss and health threatening events modulate risk-taking behaviours in real-life contexts

Caterina Galandra, Chiara Cerami, Gaia Santi, Alessandra Dodich, Stefano Cappa, Tomaso Vecchi, Chiara Crespi

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Received date: 23rd May 2020

Covid-19 pandemic is exerting a tragic impact all around the world. First-person experience of life-threatening and stressful events can modify individuals’ risk perception, and, consequently, risk-taking behaviours. Here we investigated risk-taking profiles in 130 Italian residents, and compared healthcare to non-healthcare workers, during the lockdown phase. We ad hoc developed the “Covid-19 Risk Task”, including the classic monetary Holt-Laury Paired Lottery Task (Monetary Condition, MC) and two new ecological conditions exploring Covid-19 related risk-taking aptitudes in relation to different health (Health Status Condition, HsC) and employment (Employment Status Condition, EsC) outcomes. Results showed that, in the whole sample, individuals were more risk-averse in MC than in HsC and EsC. Moreover, a payoff increase produced a shift toward more risk-averse behaviours in MC, but not in HsC and EsC, where we found an opposite trend suggesting a more risk-loving behaviour. Finally, we found that healthcare workers were significantly less risk-averse compared to non-healthcare workers in EsC, but not in MC and HsC. These findings provided evidence of the possible effects of Covid-19 outbreak on risk-taking aptitudes. The negative impact on human choices and, consequently, on the whole world economy of this catastrophic life event must not be underestimated.

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This is an abstract of a preprint hosted on a preprint server, which is currently undergoing peer review at Scientific Reports. The findings have yet to be thoroughly evaluated, nor has a decision on ultimate publication been made. Therefore, the results reported should not be considered conclusive, and these findings should not be used to inform clinical practice, or public health policy, or be promoted as verified information.


Scientific Reports

Nature Research, Springer Nature