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PhD position: modelling behaviour in climate-related evacuations...

Incorporating decision-making in environmental emergencies into behavioural computational models for crisis planning

Environmental disasters are increasing in frequency and severity and require improved mitigation planning. Communication approaches used by first responders and governments towards affected communities impact citizen response by increasing or decreasing citizen trust and well-being. Moreover, community members may be slow to leave behind their group, and may engage in risk-taking behaviour to help others. Agent-based models (ABMs) can simulate behavioural outcomes of group decision-making in emergencies, but current evacuation models are mostly based on theoretical assumptions of behaviour rather than empirical evidence.

This PhD project will identify how and why citizens respond to evacuation guidance in climate-related evacuations. The student will explore decision-making by focusing on how and why citizens make decisions, such as the source of information that is judged to be most trustworthy, and what barriers and avenues exist to citizens following guidance. In Work Package 1, the student will conduct a systematic review to identify ways that previous models have formalised group behaviour in emergency response and identify key variables for their research. In Work Package 2, the student will conduct an online map-based evacuation route choice study to explore the effects of these variables on decision-making and compliance. Finally, they will develop an ABM which defines and operationalises these variables. The resulting model will serve as a hypothesis testing environment to identify how citizens react to climate-related emergencies based on empirical evidence.

This project will ensure the student conducts novel interdisciplinary research combining disaster management, behavioural decision making, and modelling for planning emergencies. As such, the student will develop skills in both experimental design and implementation to address human factors in emergencies, and ABMs to inform crisis planning and mitigation. Furthermore, the project will offer the student strong impact opportunities since the outputs will be of interest to both academic and non-academic stakeholders in emergency response, evacuation planning, and crisis mitigation.


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