Human Dymensions Newsletter–Feb 14

Book Launch – Real Risk, Human Discerning and Risk

The launch of Dr Long’s third book Real Risk, Human Discerning and Risk on 12 February 2014 was a great success. A gathering of 70 people at the Australian Catholic University North Sydney heard a number of speakers present on the latest book and the Post Graduate Program on the Social Psychology of Risk being delivered at ACU.

The evening commenced with a welcome from Brad Markham, the Corporate Development Manager for Executive Education at the University. Brad is the coordinator of the Post Graduate Program. The theme for the occasion was Are You Risk Intelligent?  Rob explained the link between discerning risk and risk intelligence in his presentation.

You can purchase your copy of Real Risk, Human Discerning and Risk here, or the discounted two or three book deal here. The following pictures and captions help explain the event.

Advanced Notice – Melbourne Book Launch – 9 April at ACU

The University proposes to also launch the book in Melbourne at 4pm on 9 April at ACU – 115 Victoria Parade Fitzroy. If you are interested in attending please send your request to Brad Markam and he will assure your place at this event.

foreword for the book and

Brad welcomes everyone and explains the connection between the University, the book and the Post Graduate Program. Now with students from Austria, New Zealand and interest from Canada.

Garry Mansfield from Toga Development reads out a greeting from James Kell. James wrote the foreword to the book and sent a greeting from St Martins. Check out James Kell’s wonderful adventures and photography at

David Fitzgerald GM HSEQ from Jemena launches the book. Thanks David for your candour and wonderful stories about making sense of risk.

Rob welcomes his brother Graham, the CEO of the Wayside Chapel Kings Cross and introduces Graham’s book and work.

Rob responds to David’s introduction and tells a story from the book about the Zarsaberries. The covers of each of the three books and their significance was also discussed as well special thanks to key people on the Human Dymensions and University teams.

Some of the gathering in discussion and enjoying the hospitality of the University.

Scott, Rob and Caroline discuss the Post Graduate Program, Rob and Scott are current students. Rob is also an associate of Human Dymensions and Director of Dolphin Safety Solutions.


Gabrielle Carlton with Mary McGuiness. Gab is Director of The Safety FIRM and also an associate of Human Dymensions. Mary is Director of the Type Institute and delivers a wide variety of training in personality and leadership. Mary’s book You’ve Got Personality has sold 100,000 copies.

Celia, Executive Assistant at Human Dymensions, selling copies of all three books and sorting out transactions and contacts.

Rob signing the book for Caroline.

More book signing and introductions and discussion of Human Dymensions work and the Post Graduate Program.

Tony, Nadia and Stephanie enjoying the hospitality of the University.

Post Graduate Program Update – Not Too Late to Enrol

All is progressing well in the Post Graduate program in the Social Psychology of Risk. The first group (that commenced in 2013) is currently working through Unit 2, Leadership and the Social Psychology of Risk whilst a second group starts Unit 1, An Introduction to the Social Psychology of Risk from 10-14 March.

Quite a number of both groups have indicated that they wish to proceed with the Program to obtain their Masters in the Social Psychology of Risk. You need not commit to the full Master’s Program but would also get great value out of even one unit or by auditing (non-assessed attendance) the program.

It’s not too late to join in the March group but you will have to be quick. Details of the Grad Certificate component are located here including unit outlines and download of the University flyer.

Overseas Students and Possilities

The program has enrolled its first student who is flying from Austria to attend the March face to face Unit 1. ACU is also in discussion with Universities in Perth and New Zealand in response to demand to deliver the program in those locations. If you are an potential overseas student and have an interest in the Program (including in person and online units), please contact Brad Markam.

If would attend the program if provided in Auckland or Perth, please indicate your commitment to Brad Markham.

Corporate Packages – Leadership in the Social Psychology of Risk

A special package and discount rate can be arranged for an organisation or corporate groups. What this means is that Dr Long and his team come to your organisation and undertake the lecture and study program in-house. All units in the corporate format are assessed in situ with full University accreditation.

For more information or any questions about program options, please email Brad Markham or Dr Long and they will be more than pleased to explain requirements, enrolment or logistics. A video promotion of the Program can be viewed here.

New Video Series On Line

Since last newsletter several new videos have been developed and uploaded to the Human Dymensions Vimeo site. The focus of the videos is on common questions about risk, safety and security and the social psychology of risk. The new series is structured in an interview format with Gabrielle Carlton and Rob Sams interviewing Dr Long. The first three video topics are on Due Diligence, Measurement and Risk Mitigation.  All the videos are free to download and may be helpful in discussion/learning sessions for professionals and practitioners in risk, safety and security.

You can access the Human Dymensions Youtube site here.

Conferences in 2014 – Auckland and Sydney

For those interested in hearing Dr Long speak on the social psychology of risk there are two opportunities in 2014. The first is on 28 May in Sydney, further details can be obtained here. The second is in New Zealand on 10-12 September in Auckland for OHSIG. Dr Long will be speaking at both conferences on the social psychology of risk and trends in risk and safety. At both conferences Dr Long will also be offering workshops.

Research into the Labelling Effect

Work by Foroni and Rothbart (2012) demonstrate the psychological power of labelling. What the research indicates is that labelling sticks. The research shows that once something has been labelled it is difficult for people to unlearn their attachment to that label, so even when the label is taken away and replaced with a new label, people remain attached to a previous label.

Labelling bias takes time to unlearn and considerable time for detachment, for example, if an organisation were to use a label such as ‘zero harm’ to describe its safety regime, regardless of the tyrannical nature of the regime, a strong attachment develops even when people don’t like that label. Once the label becomes ingrained it is hard to shift, especially when the label is accompanied by an investment in ego and financial resources. This is why the priming of safety mantras, goals and language are so important. If people learn a dysfunctional sense of comfort with a dysfunctional label, they still attach to it and resist conversion even when the label is taken away or replaced.

Foroni, F., and Rothbart, M., (2013)  Abandoning a label doesn’t make it disappear: The perseverance of labelling effects, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 49 (2013) 126-131

Competition – Find the Cat

This is a tough challenge and not for the faint hearted. The first five to return by email (address to the correct location of the cat in this photo will win a free copy of Rob’s third book, Real Risk Human Discerning and Risk. As a guide, when each competition is launched the prizes go off in less than an hour of sending the Newsletter.

For more information on perception and visual misthinking go here.

For a bit more fun, make the head of Richard Wiseman disappear here.

Research into Decision Making and the Ambivalent Mind

Research by Rees, Rothman, Lehavy and Sanchez-Burks (2013) shows that ambivalence increases judgment accuracy. Emotional ambivalence is being caught between certainty and uncertainty, where doubt, faith and confidence tussle with each other in making a decision. This should not be confused with scepticism which is the systematic ideology of doubt but rather ambivalence is the capability to entertain doubt in the face of tendencies to overconfidence.

Some make think that confidence in decision making is a strength, even when that decision turns out to be wrong. This is the old myth that any decision is better than no decision. The research shows that not rushing into decision making ends up being more successful than decision making that is quick and less considered. More on this topic can be explored by studying the nature of heuristics, automaticity and the unconscious in decision making. A recent blog by Dr Long may be helpful.

Rees, Rothman, Lehavy and Sanchez-Burks (2013)  The ambivalent mind can be a wise mind: Emotional ambivalence increases judgment accuracy.  Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. 49 p. 360–367

New Training Programs in 2014

Creating a Culture in Due Diligence

Due Diligence is about culture. The six essentials of Due Diligence are difficult to measure and are more about attitude, values and belief than systems and bureaucracy. One can collect many folders of systems and hazard registers as possible but these do not demonstrate Due Diligence. This program looks at the 6 essentials from a cultural perspective and provides participants with tools that support the cultural foundations of Due Diligence and the values and attitudes required to be effective in risk and safety. These are the 6 aspects of Due Diligence according to the legislation:

  1. Acquire & keep up to date knowledge of WHS
    2. Understand the nature of their business operations, hazards & risks
    3. Use appropriate resources to eliminate or minimize risk
    4. Have appropriate processes for receiving & considering information & respond in a timely manner
    5. Implement processes for compliance
    6. Verify that risks & hazards are being appropriately controlled

The following questions serve as a guide to the nature of the program:

  • How does one assess diligence in keeping up to date in knowledge?
  • What kind of knowledge is valuable and what safety knowledge is of value?
  • How can one understand organisations, leadership and management of risk without a social psychological understanding of operations and risk?
  • What resources are helpful in tackling risk? What are the trade offs and down side of risk aversion? Can one be duely diligent if one is dumbed down to thinking about risk? Is the best compliant parrot able to express Due Diligence? How is Due Diligence connected to discerning risk and risk intelligence?
  • How is compliance motivated? What are the essentials of motivation? Is the process or ownership the most important attribute of Due Diligence?
  • How are controls verified? How can one identify hazards are risks fully without a good working knowledge of culture and the social psychology of risk?

This program is a two day program is designed for managers and leaders.

SEEK Program

The SEEK Program is a two day program on accident investigation from a social psychological perspective. The Program looks at the role and bias of the investigator and the biases of popular investigation systems. SEEK provides participants and investigators with a much greater awareness of self, subjectivities, biases, personality involvement, cultural influences and limitations of systems in investigating events. Participants leave the Program with a greater balance in methods and processes in questioning and interrogating people, events and interactions.

iTHINK Therefore I Write

This is a special program developed by Craig from the Human Dymensions team and helps people better articulate and translate ideas into text. So much of what we write requires good thinking and this course provides participants with tools to think more effectively and improve writing.

How to Design and Deliver Better Inductions

This course introduces participants to the fundamentals of instructional design and how to make inductions that are engaging and learning in focus. Skills in curriculum design, presentation, activity design and resource development are key outcomes of the program.

Feature Article – Practical Essentials in Learning

The following seven conditions and dispositions are essential if learning is to occur. The best way to develop learning is to foster a climate and context for discovery and ownership. This is best done through facilitation of experiences rather than ‘telling’. Experiential learning such as role play or simulation are most effective way for people to learn by feeling what you want them to know. This is why practice field work, trial and error situations and ‘dummy runs’ are so helpful. Here are the seven essentials for learning:

(a)  Trust

There can be no change, development or transition without the establishment of trust.  To establish trust takes significant time and skill.  The emphasis here is on relationships, what Martin Buber called the I-Thou in meeting.  In the social-psychological approach the development of a learning and dynamic community is central to the establishment of trust.

(b)  Climate (Ethos, Place and Space)

The rate and embracing of change will be limited unless people come into an atmosphere (climate) which generates trust, engagement, motivation, recognition, resilience and learning.  A climate of acceptance and respect is foundational to establishing a positive climate where people can make mistakes, bounce back (resilience) and learn.

(c)  Structure

Change relies upon a structure (providing a degree of certainty, security and meaning) which demonstrates through the methodology of organisation that people are valued and supported. A structure which disempowers people and limits freedoms and choice is essentially de-motivating.

(d)  A Change Culture

The essence of all change requires the inclination to change, the "want" or "will" to change.  Recognition and reward in a measurable form are critical to this process, as is methodology and how people are engaged.

(e)  Engagement

The key to engagement is acceptance of "the other" and valuing people’s contribution despite circumstance and history.

(f)  Meaning and Purpose

People will not change unless they see "sense" in the change and some positive outcome for themselves.  The change management process needs to be a "sensemaking" process which is intertwined with other key change elements such as trust, motivation and engagement.  It is meaning and purpose which drives the development of resilience.

(g)  Ability and Capability

Change will not be effective unless the change agent has the ability to drive and direct change (without overpowering others) and unless the employee has the capability/capacity to change.


If any of the stories, experiments, research, resources or programs contained in this newsletter are of interest, please email

If you would like a demonstration of Human Dymensions programs please contact Rob on 0424547115.


Dr Rob Long

Dr Rob Long

Expert in Social Psychology, Principal & Trainer at Human Dymensions
Dr Rob Long
PhD., MEd., MOH., BEd., BTh., Dip T., Dip Min., Cert IV TAA, MRMIA Rob is the founder of Human Dymensions and has extensive experience, qualifications and expertise across a range of sectors including government, education, corporate, industry and community sectors over 30 years. Rob has worked at all levels of the education and training sector including serving on various post graduate executive, post graduate supervision, post graduate course design and implementation programs.

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