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  • Moran Bodas

Keynote Address at Tel Aviv University's Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences Diploma Ceremony

Date: 3 July, 2024

Yesterday evening, I had the honor of delivering the keynote speech at the diploma ceremony of the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences at Tel Aviv University. The focus of my talk was on the critical issue of emergency preparedness within our communities, particularly highlighting the psychological barriers that hinder proactive readiness.

In my presentation titled "From Despair to Hope: Challenges and Opportunities in Emergency Preparedness in Israel," I discussed the tendency of individuals to procrastinate when it comes to preparing their households for emergencies. Drawing on psychological theories, I explored two main frameworks:

  • Victimization Model: This model suggests that under constant threat, individuals may develop a psychology that avoids thinking about emergencies altogether. Those who are more resilient may desensitize themselves to risk cues, while others may resort to denial as a coping mechanism, thereby ignoring recommended civil defense preparations.

  • Terror Management Theory: This theory posits that humans consciously or subconsciously push thoughts of mortality aside. Messages about emergency preparedness can trigger this mortality salience, leading individuals to deny the urgency of preparation without prompting real behavioral change.

To address these challenges, I proposed several solutions during my keynote:

  1. Utilitarian Approach: Encouraging preparedness through incentives, such as tax reductions for maintaining emergency supply kits, can motivate behavioral change without relying on fear tactics.

  2. Empowerment Approach: Instead of fear-based communication, messages should emphasize hope, optimism, and empowerment. By instilling confidence in individuals' ability to prepare, we can foster genuine behavioral change.

  3. Socio-Normative Change: Framing preparedness behaviors as desirable social norms can create a sustainable shift in public readiness. When individuals perceive preparedness as contributing to community strength and resilience, they are more likely to engage in proactive measures.

In conclusion, addressing the psychological barriers to emergency preparedness requires a multifaceted approach that combines understanding human behavior with practical solutions. By implementing these strategies, we can work towards a safer and more resilient society.


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