People act when they feel obliged. Prosocial intentions toward Ukrainian refugees in Poland during the first two weeks of the war in Ukraine
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Institute of Psychology, The Maria Grzegorzewska University, Warsaw, Poland
Submission date: 2023-02-15
Final revision date: 2023-10-11
Acceptance date: 2023-12-14
Online publication date: 2024-01-16
Corresponding author
Iwona Nowakowska   

Institute of Psychology, The Maria Grzegorzewska University, Warsaw, Poland
In February 2022, Poland became one of the most engaged countries in accepting Ukrainian refugees. Based on the norm activation model, the study, performed during the first two weeks of the war, examined the prosocial intentions of Poles toward Ukrainians in relation to the individualizing moral foundations (harm/care and fairness/reciprocity), as well as beliefs about the obligation of individual citizens to help.

Participants and procedure:
The study was designed to investigate the views of Poles on helping Ukrainians in times of tension. On the second day of data collection, the war in Ukraine began. Therefore, the study shows the intentions of Poles to help refugees from Ukraine in the first days of full-scale war. A total of 139 people aged 18-71 years from the general public participated (102 females) in an online survey distributed through social media channels.

The results show that individual obligation belief fully mediates the effect of individualizing moral foundations on prosocial behavior intentions.

Based on the results, it could be concluded that during a refugee crisis, in line with the norm activation model, highlighting the personal obligation to provide support can be important to motivate people to help others in need. The effect of a sense of personal obligation is more important than the effect of an underlying individualizing morality.

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