Behavioral Economics During Wartime: Breaking Biases

Decision-making in wartime: Adapting to a new reality

Since the start of the war, we have lived in a new reality that many of us refuse to accept. We choose only to accept the news that coincides with our understanding of the world. We make long-term plans as if we know when the war will end. All our psychological biases work to maintain the illusion of "life as it was before the war."


Accepting change is one of the most important survival skills in war. In this course, you will learn how to understand the decision-making process along with the physical limitations of the brain under conditions of tremendous uncertainty and stress. You will discover what role emotions play in the perception of enemy propaganda and news from the front. You will learn why the same information affects very similar people differently. During this course, you will look at facts from different angles, and make decisions depending on these frames. You will study the basics of mental accounting and understand how it affects a person’s desire to contribute to the front and volunteer. You will understand why and how we make such decisions, and whether it is possible to learn to be more effective and self-aware.

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Learning outcomes
Understand the real decision-making processes

at play during conditions of uncertainty

Analyze the influence of emotions

social norms, and "unimportant" external factors on the end result

Unpack the difficulty of making choices

when everything seems so simple

Learn how you can change

someone else's behavior with just one word


Discover whether it can be predicted

Identify and avoid "mental traps"

and cognitive biases to better understand the behavior of your colleagues, friends, and enemies

Understand why people voluntarily go to the frontline

or do not leave cities that are constantly shelled.

Reduce the influence of misinformation and propaganda

on decision-making and emotional state, and avoid being swayed by extreme sweeping statements; from "all is lost" to "tomorrow we will win”

This course is designed for:
  • HR Managers & Department heads who want to understand the reasons for changing behavior and motivation of their teams
  • Marketing, Researchers & Consumer insights managers who aim to capture rapidly changing consumers' needs & wants
  • Business owners, Sales & Business development managers who want to master the decision-making process and find new strategies through difficulties or crises
  • Driven individuals & proactive organizers who want to make plans and decisions rationally and equip themselves with the skills necessary to process variables from all angles
This course is designed for:
Behavioral Economics During Wartime: Breaking Biases
  • Nov 29, 2022
  • 4 weeks x 2 sessions per week
  • 16 hours of live sessions + 24 hours of self-study
  • Live online sessions with instructors and individual assignments
  • Ukrainian Language of Instruction
  • $290
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Volodymyr Vakhitov
Director of the Behavioral Science Institute and Associate Professor at American University Kyiv.

With a Master of Economic Theory from the National University of Kyiv Mohyla Academy, a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Kentucky, and over 15 years of employment with the Kyiv School of Economics, Dr. Vakhitov has acquired versatile experience in Applied Econometrics, Urban and Regional Economics, Productivity Analysis and Behavioral Economics. Over the last ten years, the latter has become his main theme and passion. Dr. Vakhitov has taught courses at MA and MBA levels in Ukraine and internationally, held multiple training programs for Ukrainian businesses (DTEK, SCM, Raiffeisen Bank, PUMB, Sevier, Softserve, just to mention a few) and international organizations (UNDP, USAID), and authored dozens of articles and interviews in the local media as well as articles in international scientific journals. After the start of the full-scale Russian invasion, Dr. Vakhitov has actively applied his knowledge of behavioral economics to such topics as overcoming the hesitance of civilians to evacuate from war zones, increasing the efficiency of charitable contributions, and overcoming the consequences of PTSD. Also, Dr. Vakhitov runs the only Ukrainian-language blog about behavioral economics, BeSmart.

Nataliia Zaika
Program Manager at Behavioral Science Institute at American University Kyiv

She works on projects that study behavior and decision-making in different situations to suggest better, behaviorally sound policies. For example, why people (do not) vaccinate against COVID-19 or polio? Why people (do not) evacuate from dangerous zones during the Russian-Ukrainian war? What affects larger charitable donations? She also studies how communications influence behavior. For example, can we develop proper messages to encourage more socially acceptable and less risky behavior? Nataliia also conducts training for NGOs, businesses, and students on behavioral economics, critical thinking, storytelling with data, soft skills, and career development.

Program structure
1. Introduction. What is "rational behavior"?

1.1. What a rational choice should look like

1.2. What information is available to us

1.3. What helps us to make a choice when there is not enough information

2. Probable vs. improbable

2.1. How we perceive simple probabilities

2.2. How a minor additional factor makes it difficult to understand the odds

2.3. How the risk perception affects decisions

2.4. How we avoid uncertainty

3. Prospects and losses

3.1. How does a thinking pattern affect a change in preferences?

3.2. Why do the same people play the lottery and buy insurance?

3.3. What do we lose when we choose something else?

3.4. Why don't we like to lose?

4. Mental losses and gains under the conditions of war

4.1. How to preserve the psyche and continue to work against the background of real and expected losses?

4.2. How do mental accounts allow you to redistribute money more efficiently?

4.3. How to submit charity projects?

4.4. The strength of the default values. Why do we always have to simplify?

4.5. How to encourage the development of habits?

5. Choice under conditions of uncertainty

5.1. If there was a strike today, will there be a strike tomorrow?

5.2. Would the robot be able to recognize the enemy's sabotage and reconnaissance group?

5.3. Is it possible to convince the "vatnik"?

5.4. How effective are celebrities in collecting donations?

5.5. Where do you hang the additional protection on a military aircraft?

6. The role of emotions

6.1. Emotions of events and emotions of expectations.

6.2. The idea of an identified victim in fundraising and in propaganda.

6.3. Emotional swing.

6.4. The role of emotional intelligence for volunteers, those who work with people, and civil servants. The role of trauma and post-traumatic syndrome in a post-war society, and how we can deal with it.

7. Motivation: what makes us do what we do?

7.1. Ways of non-monetary motivation: the difference between physical and intellectual work

7.2. Effects of trust, simplicity, monetary stress (penalties vs. bonuses), IKEA effect, shared experience effect

7.3. How to force yourself to work effectively during the war?

8. The importance of social norms

8.1. How does the environment affect us? Is a human really a "social animal"?

8.2. How important is it to follow the peacetime social norms during wartime?

8.3. Feeling of social responsibility and group dynamics.

8.4. Do standard wartime experiments (ultimatum, dictator, common cause games) work?

Frequently asked questions
What is the language of instruction for this course?

The course is fully delivered in Ukrainian. All learning materials, including reading and video, are in Ukrainian too. Your individual and group assignments are expected to be prepared in Ukrainian as well.

Are there any prerequisites for this course?

This course is aimed at a wide audience and does not require any special prerequisites. Still, some working experience would help you to better understand some of the concepts.

How much time will I have to spend learning while taking this course?

This course includes 90-minute live sessions with instructors twice per week in the evenings. Self-study may include reading materials or videos. You will also be receiving some homework, which may include individual and group assignments. The estimated time dedication for this course is 6-10 hours per week, but this largely depends on you.

What qualification will I earn?

Upon successful completion of this course, you will be awarded a certificate accredited by American University Kyiv

Will my ECTs be transferable to undergraduate or post-graduate programs?

No, credits earned from this course are not transferrable and may not count toward Master’s or Bachelor’s programs should you decide to pursue this path of study.

How can I pay?

Payments may be made online via our website, or you may request an invoice from our accounting department. American University Kyiv does not accept cash payments.

Can I get the scholarship?

American University Kyiv offers wartime scholarships to all Ukrainian citizens who enroll in AUK programs. This course, in particular, has a 50% scholarship which is currently reflected in the course cost.

Can my company pay for me?

If your employer agrees to pay for your study, you may inquire about the proforma invoice from our accounting department.

What if I fail?

If you do not meet the course completion requirements, you will not be entitled to receive a certificate of completion. This course will be offered on a repeated basis, and you may enroll one more time.

What if I miss the live session with the instructor or guest speaker?

All live sessions will be recorded, so you may watch them later via a shared link.

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