Protecting Cyberhealth: Social Psychological Mechanisms That Accentuate and Mitigate Risky Online Behavior

Dennis Aronov, Mika Oettinger Struhl, Amelia Lam, Kyra Rodriguez, Emily Balcetis

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Individual users are a major weakness in cybersecurity networks because they often ignore information that could reduce the risk of becoming victims of fraud. The most commonly used tactic for protecting networks is informing individual users about the likelihood that they themselves will engage in actions that jeopardize their own and networks’ security. However, such tactics may not be as effective as they intend to be. In this chapter, we probe the psychological mechanisms that reduce the effectiveness of commonly used tactics for increasing network and individual security. We investigate the role of base rate neglect, selfenhancement, and abstraction in fear appeals in the underutilization of information that could increase the accuracy of personal risk assessments and shift behavioral responses to attempted phishing emails, social media exploitations, and the like. In addition, we investigate individual differences that exacerbate security risks including expertise and personality characteristics. This review aims to inspire discoveries of tactics to decrease vulnerability to cyberattacks and will offer suggestions for interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAdvances in Psychology Research. Volume 148
PublisherNova Science Publishers, Inc.
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9781685078317
StatePublished - Jan 1 2022


  • Base rate Neglect
  • Cybersecurity
  • Personality
  • Self and social judgment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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