Our Obsession with Forbidden Pleasures–Applying it to Safety
Just thinking aloud here and would really like some input from others to develop this idea a little more and I would love to here from Dr Rob on the psychology of this and how to practically apply it at work. UPDATE: see Dr Robs Response HERE
How many of you only came to this article because of the headline? Mmmmm
Recently Rob Long posted a link to article from Medical News Today on his Facebook Page about a study that showed that when people are forbidden from something, it takes on a new level of focus and interest. See the Article HERE. The human attraction for high risk items goes back to the days of Adam and Eve and is immediately obvious in todays society. So if that is normal human behaviour why are we working against ourselves when trying to improve safety?
Surely the more we try and control human behaviour by forbidding things (with procedures, legislation, punishments, zero harm, stupid slogans etc) the more we are demoralising them and encouraging people to desire those things and to do them if and when they can get away with it! I think that is called Intrinsic Motivation??
Off the top of my head I can think of many examples from life and work and I would love to hear yours, especially the work ones:
- You only need to watch this video to see what happens under a Zero Harm mentality or when you demand and reward people to not get hurt: Safety Incentives can be Fatal
- A Shopping Centre had an incident where a child was badly injured after climbing onto shade sails in the car park and falling. They put up a “WARNING DO NOT CLIMB” sign and suddenly the shade sails were covered in kids!
- Planking at work in risky places became a common practice, even after several public sackings. A group of underground miners were sacked for doing the “Harlem Shuffle” while on shift.
- How many Safety Professionals develop and enforce the most complicated of safety procedures at work but delight in their manly ability to choose to operate say a new power tool at home without any regard for reading the manual first? ME!!!
- As a young soldier we had some very arrogant, impractical Officers in charge of us. They would ask (sorry command) us to do the dumbest things. We would look at each other and know full well what a disaster it would be but took great delight in doing it anyway just to see them look stupid – we were blame free as we were just “dumb grunts” following orders.
- Every single one of us changes our behaviour when there is a police car visible then back to “normal” when they are gone – I would love to spend a day in an unmarked car!!!
- Who has ever seen a Workcover Inspector fined for J walking – I have! see Safety Professionals Behaving Badly
- On that subject, it is amusing to follow professional (i assume) people’s habits on this blog, despite the thousands of professional articles on this blog, two of the most popular articles: Worlds Sexiest Safety Commercial and Work Accident Photos !!! WT??? I know you want to but DO NOT click on those links, read on…..
- Whoooaaa – this is digressing in the wrong direction and i may have to come back an edit this later, please send me some workplace examples – LOL – Wait…… do we maybe need to make safety and work more attractive and exciting to appeal to our innate primal instincts – heaven forbid!!!!
- When I was at Uni we used to throw paper plans all thru a particular subject lecture. Finally, the Lecturer had enough and said “right, tomorrow you have 10 mins to throw as many as you like”. We accepted the challenge, stayed up all night folding paper and in that 10mins several thousand must have been launched, including one with a 10’ wingspan made from cardboard boxes…………not another plane was thrown all year!
- My son is 17 and I know he is excited about turning 18 and “so I can drink” and in going to “schoolies”. I’ve educated him about the dangers but know he has stolen the odd beer from my fridge and had a few at parties under peer pressure. So at a family party recently I said it was quite OK to have a couple if he wanted – he drank Coke all night!
- Remember the Uncle Remus story where Brer Rabbit “Oh please Brer Fox, whatever you do, please don’t throw me into the briar patch.” ?
- Respected Sports Psychologist, Phil Jauncey, espouses always accepting and agreeing with people’s excuses. If they say they want to quit – he would probably say “yeah you should quit, just walk away and abandon all your hard work and waste your talent” what driven athlete would follow that advice?. If they say they dropped the ball because it was wet he would say “of course, you should tell your coach that you are not allowed to play in the rain anymore” – a professional athlete would then go practice catching a wet ball!
I have many many more but that will do for now…………..
Reflecting of my childhood, my parents were masters at “Reverse Psychology” and I reckon it would work like a charm in the workplace. About 2 years ago I read an article by Daniel Pink – “A bad idea a day”. He writes “Many of us know that one secret to generating good ideas is producing bad ideas. But if you look on your bookshelf or visit the best creativity and productivity blogs – or even ask Mr. Google “how to come up with bad ideas” — you won’t find much guidance. READ MORE HERE
I tried this idea at a workplace and it worked Brilliantly – see my article: You Should Actively Encourage Poor Safety in the Workplace (NB a person with a closed mind would not read this!)
C’mon people join my campaign against the tide of convoluted safety systems, paperwork, stupid slogans and over regulation. Safety is about PEOPLE and the unique way they they think and behave. What are your thoughts? Or, better still, what have you done or what will you do to make people the focus of safety improvement????
Oh, and whatever you do, i urge you NOT to SUBSCRIBE to this blog – you are likely to be sent occasional similar articles and you will definitely be given a copy of George’s Ebook – this book is only for those who want to gain a unique perspective, learn something new and to make a difference in safety – you have been warned, make the right choice!