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Research Problem
Rationale / Hypothesis
Real World Application

What information do the public need and want to know about their personal risk from COVID-19?

Publication type:Research Problem
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This Problem is based on work published in: https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.201721

Different communicators might have different aims when approaching the communication of personalized risk from COVID-19. Some may feel it important to encourage people to take mitigating actions, and hence to ensure that risks are perceived as relatively high to increase motivation [1,2]. Others might want to reduce worry and hence ensure that risks are perceived as low. There is no ‘correct’ perception of a risk, as risk perception is inherently subjective and incorporates both likelihood and personal impact (which depends on personal vulnerabilities and priorities) [3].

In order to be able to provide any useful information, however, it is important to understand what the public’s current state of knowledge on the subject is, and what information they particularly want to have (or specifically not want to have).

1.       Bish A, Michie S. 2010 Demographic and attitudinal determinants of protective behaviours during a pandemic: a review. Br. J. Health Psychol. 15, 797–824. (doi:10. 1348/135910710X485826)

2.       Dryhurst S, Schneider CR, Kerr J, Freeman ALJ, Recchia G, van der Bles AM, Spiegelhalter D, van der Linden S. 2020 Risk perceptions of COVID-19 around the world. J. Risk Res. 23, 1466–4461. (doi:10.1080/13669877.2020. 1758193)

3.       Slovic, P. and Peters, E., 2006. Risk perception and affect. Current directions in psychological science15(6), pp.322-325.


This work was funded by the Winton Centre for Risk & Evidence Communication at the University of Cambridge, which is financed by a donation from the David & Claudia Harding Foundation.

Conflict of interest

This Research Problem does not have any specified conflicts of interest.