Birmingham researcher receives British Academy of Management Award

A team of researchers led by Ganna Pogrebna, Professor of Behavioural Economics and Data Science at Birmingham received the British Academy of Management award in Organizational Psychology for the work on behavioural segmentation for cybersecurity.

The award-winning research paper proposes a new Cyber Domain-Specific Risk Taking (CyberDoSpeRT) scale, which aims to measure individual risk taking and risk perception towards cyber risks across five different dimensions. The scale is then tested with representative samples of populations from two countries, the US and the UK. The paper shows that the US population tends to exhibit higher levels of risk taking in cyberspace than the UK population. Using the CyberDoSpeRT scale, four behavioral types in each population are identified:

  • Relaxed (high risk taking – low risk perception)
  • Anxious (low risk taking – high risk perception)
  • Opportunistic (high risk taking – high risk perception)
  • Ignorant (low risk taking – low risk perception).

The paper finds that cross-cultural differences between the US and the UK can be explained by higher relative concentration of ‘Relaxed’ types in the US and higher relative concentration of ‘Anxious’ types in the UK. Identified types are highly correlated with individuals’ ability to accurately recognize cyber threats. This suggests that information about cybersecurity risks should be tailored to different behavioral types when businesses design cybersecurity awareness campaigns.

These findings have several important implications. The CyberDoSpeRT scale offers a simple way for practitioners as well as researchers to measure cyber risk attitudes, segment the population and use the resulting types to construct custom-made information campaigns for different users. The CyberDoSpeRT behavioral segmentation offers a concrete method to identify types in the population. These types are not based on any demographic characteristics but rely on behavioral constructs. These constructs, in turn, are a product of detailed data on what people do and how people feel about various activities in cyberspace. These constructs are also based on preferences elicited for five different domains making sure that the tested issues are relevant to different audiences. Hence, the CyberDoSpeRT scale represents a useful tool for practice.

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