Job loss and health threatening events modulate risk-taking behaviours in the Covid-19 emergency

Caterina Galandra, Chiara Cerami, Gaia Chiara Santi, Alessandra Dodich, Stefano F Cappa, Tomaso Vecchi, Chiara Crespi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Covid-19 pandemic is exerting a tragic impact all around the world. First-person experience of life-threatening and stressful events can modify individuals' risk perception, and, consequently, risk-taking behaviours. Here we investigated risk-taking profiles in 130 Italian residents, and compared healthcare to non-healthcare workers, during the lockdown phase. We ad hoc developed the "Covid-19 Risk Task", including the classic monetary Holt-Laury Paired Lottery Task (Monetary Condition, MC) and two new ecological conditions exploring Covid-19 related risk-taking aptitudes in relation to different health (Health Status Condition, HsC) and employment (Employment Status Condition, EsC) outcomes. Results showed that, in the whole sample, individuals were more risk-averse in MC than in HsC and EsC. Moreover, a payoff increase produced a shift toward more risk-averse behaviours in MC, but not in HsC and EsC, where we found an opposite trend suggesting a more risk-loving behaviour. Finally, we found that healthcare workers were significantly less risk-averse compared to non-healthcare workers in EsC, but not in MC and HsC. These findings provided evidence of the possible effects of Covid-19 outbreak on risk-taking aptitudes. The negative impact on human choices and, consequently, on the whole world economy of this catastrophic life event must not be underestimated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22236
JournalSci. Rep.
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 17 2020


  • Adult
  • Aged
  • COVID-19/psychology
  • Disease Outbreaks/statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Health Personnel/psychology
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pandemics/statistics & numerical data
  • Risk-Taking
  • SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity
  • Unemployment/psychology


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