Scam Compliance and the Psychology of Persuasion

David Modic
University of Exeter; University of Cambridge

Stephen E. G. Lea
University of Exeter – College of Life and Environmental Sciences

June 21, 2013

Abstract:

Social psychologists have established various psychological mechanisms that influence perception of risk and compliance in general. The empirical investigation in this paper focused on how those mechanisms apply to complying with scams. A scale of susceptibility to persuasion was developed, validated and then applied to the phenomena of scam compliance in two studies. In the first study participants answered questions on the susceptibility to persuasion scale and a series of questions about lifetime compliance with 14 fraudulent scenarios. The scale was factorised and tested for reliability. Four reliable factors contributed to susceptibility to persuasion: influence of authority, social influence, self-control and the need for consistency. The susceptibility to persuasion scale was then used to predict overall lifetime scam compliance. Social influence, the need for consistency and self-control all had an impact on universal scam compliance. In the second study an independent sample of participants filled out the susceptibility to persuasion scale and answered questions measuring scam compliance for the past three years across nine fraudulent scenarios. The susceptibility to persuasion scale was validated and confirmed. Scam compliance over the past three years was measured and the results showed that authority, social influence, the need for consistency and self-control all informed scam compliance over that period.

Scam Compliance and the Psychology of Persuasion

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