Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Comparative Political Sciences and Political Systems of Eastern Europe

Evacuation Alerts: Behavioural Insights from Ukraine


With Volodymyr Vakhitov, Natalia Zaika, Monika Pompeo and Anastasiya Leukhina

In Lviv, the trains heading to Poland are crowded with refugees from Ukraine fleeing the war.  IMAGO / Le Pictorium

Evacuation alerts can be a crucial tool in ensuring the safety of civilians in the context of natural disasters and war. The rapid spread of information can help people escape danger before it's too late. However, there has been a lack of scientific testing to determine how best to design these alerts. The goal of scientific testing is to ensure that the messages are clear, concise, and targeted to a specific audience.

We conducted an experiment as part of a wider survey on evacuation behaviour in the current war in Ukraine. Respondents were randomly assigned to ten different treatments, each with a different type of evacuation alert. Five of the alerts varied in terms of their framing (loss, gain, loss of life, loss of basic living conditions and opportunity costs), while the other five included a brief evacuation plan. We asked the respondents to evaluate them based on their perceived effectiveness in motivating people to leave their settlements. Our findings suggest that the content of the alert per se does not matter, but adding the evacuation plan significantly increased its perceived effectiveness. The aim of this workshop is to gather feedback and ideas on how to translate these hypothetical evacuation alerts into a more realistic setting with a view to increasing their potential to save lives.

In a presentation at the start of the workshop, I will provide a brief overview of the Be.Ukraine (Behavioural Scientists for Ukraine) experience. The Be.Ukraine network was founded in May of last year with the aim to promote and to implement behavioural research in Ukraine. The main founding members are Volodymyr Vahitov, Natalia Zaika and Monika Pompeo.

As the workshop is interactive, we hope for your active participation with your cameras and speakers turned on.



Volodymyr Vakhitov, director of the Center for Behavioral Studies, BeSmart, American University Kyiv, Ukraine

Natalia Zaika, visiting researcher in the Ukraine Research Network@ZOiS (UNET) and manager of the Center for Behavioral Studies, BeSmart, American University Kyiv, Ukraine

Monika Pompeo, postdoctoral researcher in Behavioral Economics, NYU Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Facilitator: Anastasiya Leukhina, Ukraine Research Network@ZOiS (UNET)

Zoom Link

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