Call to claim your prize: Perceived benefits and risk drive intention to comply in a mass marketing scam.

Stacey Wood, Pi-Ju Liu , Yaniv Hanoch, Patricia M. Xi, Lukas Klapatch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Mass marketing scams extract an enormous toll, yet the literature on scams is just emerging. In Experiment 1, 211 adults reviewed a solicitation and rated their intention of contacting an “activation number” for a prize. Scarcity and authority were manipulated. Many (48.82%) indicated some willingness to contact to “activate” the winnings. Intention of responding was inversely related to the perception of risk (b = −.441, p < .001) and positively associated with perception of benefits (b = .554, p < .001), but not with the experimental condition. In Experiment 2, 291 adults were randomly assigned to one of the three conditions (low, medium, or high activation fee), and were asked to report willingness to contact. Activation fees decreased intent to contact, but percentages remained high (25.70%), with higher perception of risk reducing contact rates (b = −.581, p < .001), and benefit perception increasing intent to contact (b = .381, p < .001). Our studies indicate that consumers are responding to perceived risks and benefits in their decision-making, regardless of persuasion elements used by scammers. In summary, our studies find that consumers with lower levels of education and high perception of benefits are at increased risk for mass marketing scams.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)196-206
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Applied
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • fraud
  • financial crimes
  • persuasion
  • numeracy
  • sweepstakes


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