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J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2020 Feb 14;75(3):522-533. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gby036.

Uncovering Susceptibility Risk to Online Deception in Aging.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, Institute on Aging, University of Florida, Gainesville.
2
Department of Aging and Geriatric Research, Institute on Aging, University of Florida, Gainesville.
3
Center for Cognitive Aging and Memory, Department of Clinical and Health Psychology, University of Florida, Gainesville.
4
Florida Institute for Cybersecurity Research, University of Florida, Gainesville.
5
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Florida, Gainesville.
6
Department of Psychology, York University, Toronto, ON, Canada.
7
Laboratory of Brain and Cognition, Montreal Neurological Institute, Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery, McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada.
8
Human Neuroscience Institute, Department of Human Development, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

Fraud in the aged is an emerging public health problem. An increasingly common form of deception is conducted online. However, identification of cognitive and socioemotional risk factors has not been undertaken yet. In this endeavor, this study extended previous work suggesting age effects on susceptibility to online deception.

METHODS:

Susceptibility was operationalized as clicking on the link in simulated spear-phishing emails that young (18-37 years), young-old (62-74 years), and middle-old (75-89 years) Internet users received, without knowing that the emails were part of the study. Participants also indicated for a set of spear-phishing emails how likely they would click on the embedded link (susceptibility awareness) and completed cognitive and socioemotional measures to determine susceptibility risk profiles.

RESULTS:

Higher susceptibility was associated with lower short-term episodic memory in middle-old users and with lower positive affect in young-old and middle-old users. Greater susceptibility awareness was associated with better verbal fluency in middle-old users and with greater positive affect in young and middle-old users.

DISCUSSION:

Short-term memory, verbal fluency, and positive affect in middle-old age may contribute to resilience against online spear-phishing attacks. These results inform mechanisms of online fraud susceptibility and real-life decision-supportive interventions toward fraud risk reduction in aging.

KEYWORDS:

Affect; Cognition; Decision making; Online; Spear phishing

PMID:
29669133
DOI:
10.1093/geronb/gby036

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