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Behavioural study: Preparedness, community spirit and clear operational recommendations improve Finns' ability to deal with crises

Government Communications Department
Publication date 12.4.2022 16.22 | Published in English on 14.4.2022 at 12.33
Press release 242
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Finnish people see the situation in Ukraine as a significant security threat, but everyone has their own way of reacting to the crisis. Older people are more concerned about the situation than young people and young adults. Most people understand the importance of having a sufficient supply of foodstuffs at home, for example, but people living in sparsely populated areas have more empirical knowledge than city residents of other forms of preparedness. Community spirit, receiving support and helping one another are highlighted.

These are the conclusions of a memorandum published by the working group on behavioural foresight and knowledge in future administration (KETTU) of the Prime Minister’s Office, which assesses how community spirit, preparing for crises and incidents, and taking an active role support citizens’ psychological resilience to crisis. The memorandum is based on the Citizens’ Pulse survey and citizen interviews commissioned by the Prime Minister’s Office in March 2022. In the interviews conducted as part of the survey, 5% of 15–29-year-olds and 31% of 60–74-year-olds said that they are very concerned about the situation in Ukraine.

Ability to prepare for crises and incidents is an important civic skill that many do not know enough about

Our security situation has changed abruptly and Finnish people understand the need to prepare for crises and incidents, but there is also a stigma associated with it. Many people fear that pharmacies will run out of iodine tablets and toilet paper will be sold out if we all start investing in preparedness. Therefore, it is important to communicate that an ability to prepare for crises and incidents is a necessary civic skill for everyone, because it is good to be prepared even for unlikely situations. Many people also want to know how Finnish society is prepared for crises and what our emergency stockpiles are like.

While most people understand why it is important to keep some extra foodstuffs at home, the need to store other supplies, such as first aid supplies and fire extinguishing equipment, is not so self-evident for everyone. It would be good to provide city residents with more information about why they should also be prepared. People living in sparsely populated areas often have more empirical knowledge of this, but even among them, the authorities should maintain awareness of the importance of having emergency supplies at home for at least 72 hours. Personal cyber security and citizens' ability to identify incomplete and intentionally shared false information are also important issues to consider.

Helping others during crisis and incidents supports psychological resilience to crisis

The importance of community spirit and sense of inclusion is emphasised during crises and incidents. In these situations, citizens need support from other people, but they also want to help others as they best can. Helping other people increases an individual's sense of being an active agent and supports their psychological resilience to crisis. Authorities should be able to provide information on how people could best be of help in different situations.

“People appreciate clear and neutral communication, and if they do not receive it through official channels, they will easily turn to other media and news sources. It is also a challenge for the authorities to be able to provide information on how people could best be of help in different situations,” says Maarit Lassander, Senior Specialist at the Prime Minister’s Office.

The Behavioural Advisory project aims to promote the application of knowledge-based behavioural understanding in the central government. The members of the KETTU working group, which is part of the project, are Matti Heino, Markus Kanerva, Maarit Lassander, Ville Ojanen, Lauri Sääksvuori and Emmi Korkalainen. The entire memorandum is available on the website of the Behavioural Advisory project. 

Inquiries: Maarit Lassander, Project Manager of the Behavioural Advisory project, Senior Specialist, Ph.D. in Psychology, tel. +358 295 160 037, Prime Minister's Office