We’ve all thought it before at one time or another: “It won’t happen to me”. While this confidence may come in various forms, it’s often the cause of us arrogantly brushing off safety initiatives. Each time our confidence fuels the decision to not take even minor safety precautions, we’re actively choosing the option associated with the greater risk.
The Psychology of Overconfidence
Adam Kepecs, professor of neuroscience at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, believes that confidence isn’t just a feeling, but a scientific calculation used to make decisions.
“The feeling of confidence ultimately relies on the same statistical computations a computer would make,”
While we can’t pinpoint the exact algorithm, the brain uses to calculate confidence in our decision making, we do understand enough about it to know that confidence can inflate itself over time. When we don’t experience a bad outcome from our risky decisions, we’ll be more confident that things will turn out fine the next time we face the choice to follow or violate safety protocols.
In other words, it becomes easier and easier to make unsafe choices because those experiences made us overconfident. And that overconfidence, in turn, makes us underestimate the risks we face.
Education Prevents Overconfidence
Knowing the role that confidence plays in decision making can help us drive home safety initiatives.
It’s important to have more than just safety procedures and standards in place. If those work well, they can still encourage employees to believe they are immune to safety risks. Safety professional need to focus some of their efforts of education as well. By making sure the facts about the risks, hazards, and dangers in their workplace and those like theirs are in the forefront of their minds, workers can keep their confidence in check and resist the temptation to ignore safety protocols.
Ensuring everyone’s safety is about more than just enforcing safety standards; it’s also about educating the employees so they never forget why those standards were implemented in the first place.
What we do…
We often work with clients who work in high risk industries, such as the construction and utility sector, who tend to have more disparate and fluid workforces than most. We are able to initially help identify and thereafter improve and monitor either teams or individual working performing safety critical tasks. Results can be viewed instantaneously in the form of real-time data on the competence and confidence of each individual at specific times and dates.
At Mosaic we understand that simply holding a record of employee qualifications, licences and training courses is insufficient in the current working environment. You certainly need piece of mind to know that your workforce can deliver in the way that is safe and productive. What we do is work closely with our clients to create role specific assessments that align with goals and corporate strategy.