How Safe Is This Trip? Judging Personal Safety in a Pandemic Based on Information From Different Sources

Toby Prike, Jakub Bijak, Philip A. Higham, Jason Hilton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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In a preregistered experiment, we presented participants with information about the safety of traveling during a deadly pandemic and during a migration trip using five different sources (a news article, a family member, an official organization, someone with personal experience, and the travel organizer) and four different verbal descriptions of the likelihood of safety (very likely, likely, unlikely, and very unlikely). We found that both for the pandemic and migration contexts, judgments about the likelihood of safely traveling and decisions to travel were most strongly influenced by information from the respective official organizations and that participants also indicated greater willingness to share information from official organizations with others. These results are consistent with the established finding that expert sources are more persuasive. However, we also found that, regardless of source, participants thought that it would be safe to travel even when told that it was unlikely or very unlikely to be safe. Additionally, participants did not discriminate between the grades of likelihood description (such as between likely and very likely or between unlikely and very unlikely), suggesting that in the contexts examined directionality matters much more than attempts to communicate more fine-grained likelihood information with verbal phrases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)509-524
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Applied
Issue number3
Early online date2022
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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