Understanding Personality and Risk
It is so amusing to hear when Safety talks about personality and risk as if there are certain types of people and personalities that are more ‘prone’ to risk taking. Of course, such a proposal is pure mythology and is often projected by ignorance. Social Psychology knows this projection as the ‘hot hand’. The ‘hot hand’ is a common misperception where something is attributed as significant, when it is not.
We also see this commonly in safety when attributions are made that don’t exist, this is known as ‘Fundamental Attribution Error’. Fundamental Attribution Error is common where there is little capability for critical thinking eg. safety curriculum or AIHS BoK (https://safetyrisk.net/critical-theory-critical-thinking-and-safety/ ).
Whilst the Cattell 16 PF Test argues it can diagnose accident susceptibility, such is strongly contested across the field of psychology (https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/9781118133880.hop210004).
If one has little background in the assumptions of psychometrics, then it is wise in safety NOT to speak about people as if there is such a thing as a risk personality.
A much more mature approach is NOT to make such assumptions but rather to seek a better understanding of people and their reflections in why they do what they do. In other words, have a conversation, observe and listen. Not something Safety does well. Unfortunately, Safety is all about telling not listening.
Understanding personality also depends on what school of thought one approaches the discipline from eg. I wouldn’t waste 3 seconds on the mechanistic behaviourist view (https://safetyrisk.net/the-curse-of-behaviourism/ ) that determines humans are the sum of inputs and outputs. So fascinating to watch this addiction of Safety to behaviourism, that wants personhood to be about a mechanistic process that suits an assumption of counting and telling. So, just observe any BBS ‘mumbo jumbo’ and see its outcomes, most often brutalism.
In SPoR we favour a Jungian approach that takes the nature of the human unconscious seriously as the main factor in understanding why people do as they do.
If you want to start in understanding personality better, I can think of no better place to start than the Institute for Type Development (http://www.itd.net.au/ ).
If you are currently in lockdown and wondering what to do, ITD are now offering the Majors PTI online (http://www.itd.net.au/shop/item/majors-pti ) and there is no better place to start.
What one learns once accredited in the Majors PTI is better understanding about personality and LESS judgmentalism, a necessity for anyone wanting to become a mature and more intelligent safety advisor.