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  • Moran Bodas

Grant awarded to study human behavior in unfamiliar emergencies

Our research team, in collaboration with Dr. Stav Shapira of Ben-Gurion University, has secured funding from the Bloomberg-Sagol Center of Tel-Aviv University. This grant will propel our investigation into the effects of risk communication by local authorities on public behavior during emergencies.

The proposed research tackles the challenge of unfamiliar emergency scenarios in Israel, such as snowstorms, floods, and hazardous material dispersal, which often lead to uncertainty among the public, potentially resulting in undesirable behavior. However, initial studies suggest that targeted risk communication can mitigate such behavior.

The research will employ a combination of expert research using the e-Delphi method and intervention-based comparative group studies. A panel of experts will aid in developing insights by reaching consensus on describing selected emergency scenarios and identifying desired and undesired public behaviors in each scenario. Subsequently, a study involving 1,800 participants from the Hebrew-speaking Israeli population will assess the impact of exposure to emergency scenarios, rumors, and explanatory communication on public behavioral intentions.

The research cohort will represent diverse municipal authorities expected to encounter the mentioned emergency scenarios, including Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, Be'er Sheva, Nahariya, Safed, among others.

The implications of this research for local governance are profound. The insights gleaned from the study will facilitate the formulation of evidence-based communication and operational strategies by local authorities. The research outcomes are expected to benefit local authorities in various ways, including devising strategies for organizational preparedness, resource allocation for population management during emergencies, development of effective communication messages, and a better understanding of public behavior during crises.

This grant marks a crucial step toward fostering resilience and effective response mechanisms within communities, underscoring the vital role of communication in mitigating the impact of emergencies.


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