Safety Choices – Do we make deliberate decisions

The compelling body of evidence showing that we make far less deliberate decisions then we think we do, requires us to rethink our strategies for behavioural safety.

I recently reviewed a key study conducted in the Berlin. It involved what could be considered the most fundamental of deliberate decision making, a series of randomly selecting between two switches, one in the left hand and one in the right hand.

The subject had a fMRI scanning his brain during the series of random button selections. It turns out that by monitoring the activity in the stratum, before the decision to press left or right, the analyst could predict which button was going to be selected. The amazing part is that in some instances the analyst could predict up to 6 seconds before the person thought he was selecting. So much for spontaneous deliberate decision making!

What this tells us is that many of the decisions we think we make, are not the deliberate, conscious processes we believe they are. This has important ramifications for safety and the safe choices we ask our workforces to make. It seems they are more likely to make system 1 type decisions rather than system 2.

So, to make your behavioural safety programs effective and sustainable with the individual, it must address behaviours that come from system 1 thinking. Your automatic thinking or your habits!

If you wish to learn about this research go to the resources page click on the youtube video titled Bernstein Centre for Computational Neuroscience.

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