New tool to quantify individuals’ likelihood to fall for internet scams

An online questionnaire which measures a range of personality traits.


Scientists at the Cambridge along with Helsinki have developed an online questionnaire which measures a range of personality traits to distinguish people who will probably succumb to web tricks and different types of cybercrime.

This test is also known as Susceptibility to Persuasion II (StP-II) involves the StP-II scale and several other questions to understand persuadability better. A short, mechanized, translation of the outcomes is shown toward the finish of the poll.

The questions in StP-II fall into 10 categories, measuring different traits which might make people more susceptible to fraud: the ability to premeditate, consistency, sensation seeking, self-control, social influence, need for similarity, attitude towards risk, attitude towards advertising, cognition, and uniqueness. Participants are given a score out of seven in each of the ten areas.

According to scientists, the results can help to better predict who will be more prone to end up a casualty of cybercrime. The specialists say that StP-II could likewise be utilized for contracting in specific callings, for the screening of military staff or to build up the mental qualities of criminal programmers.

Dr. David Modic from Cambridge’s Department of Computer Science and Technology said, “Scams are essentially like marketing offers, except they’re illegal. Just like in advertising, elements of consumer psychology and behavioral economics all come into the design of an online scam, which is why it’s useful to know which personality traits make people susceptible to them.”

“We are not aware of an existing scale that would measure all the constructs that are part of StP-II. There are existing scales that measure individual traits, but when combined, the sheer length of these scales would present the participant with a psychometric tool that is almost unusable.”

Scientists used that large data set obtained from a collaboration with the BBC. They found that the most grounded indicator was the capacity to plan: people who neglect to consider the conceivable outcomes of a specific activity will probably draw in with a fraudster. In any case, they found that the probability of succumbing to one of the deliberate classes of Internet misrepresentation is halfway clarified by no less than one of the systems in StP-II.

Co-author Professor Ross Anderson, also from Cambridge’s Department of Computer Science said, “Over the past ten years, crime, like everything else, has moved online. This year, about a million UK households will be the victim of typical household crime, such as burglary, where the average victim is an elderly working-class woman. However, now 2.5 million households will be the victims of an online or electronic scam, where the victims are younger and more educated. Crime is moving upmarket.”

Modic said, “The immediate benefit of StP-II is that people will get an indication of the sorts of things they should look out for – I’m not saying it’s a sure-fire way that they will not be scammed, but there are things they should be aware of. StP-II doesn’t just measure how likely you are to fall for scams, it’s how likely you are to change your behavior.”

David Modic, Ross Anderson, and Jussi Palomäki. ‘We will make you like our research: The development of a susceptibility-to-persuasion scale.’ PLOS ONE (2018). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0194119

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