Workshop Ticket Week Six – Human Behaviour

Alone in the Crowd


Before attending your tutorial workshop, please complete a 1 page personal workshop ‘ticket’ following the provided marking criteria: 
  • Evidence of reading and effectively relating of this reading to the topic
  • Effective identification of key issues to consider for the topic
  • Original suggestions on what you are going to get your class mates to read/view/listen to before the tutorial is held
  • Evidence of original thinking on how to run the tutorial
  • Locating a relevant new recent journal reference and the quality of the 100 word summary explaining the relevance of this article to the tutorial topic

Please include in your ticket 100 words on how you might get your classmates to use the article in the tutorial eg “Read the article XYZ and come to the class with your ideas on how it contrasts with the view of ABC”.

Human Behaviour

There are two key themes that I have focused on from the readings this week; first the inevitability of human error and how professions should react knowing this fact and secondly the relational nature of humans and how this effects how people perform within a group.

In Reason’s article he looks at organisational accidents that occur within the medical profession, he compares it to accidents that are evident in other organisations (transport systems, nuclear power generation etc.) and tries to determine whether the factors that cause accidents to occur medically are the same that effect those in other industries. He first explains organisational accidents by using a swiss cheese model. Each security layer is a layer of swiss cheese, when put on top of each other the gaps in each defence should be compensated for in a layer below, however he explains that occupational accidents occur when there is a hole through each layer at the same point (ie. when you could put a stick through the entire block of cheese). It is because of this that when an accident occurs two questions should be asked; “how did each defence or barrier fail?” and “why did it fail”. This why question brings me to my first major theme within the readings, that frequently the result of a fail in a defence system is human error.Human’s are not perfect beings, as a result of this human error is an unavoidable problem for all professions. So as organisations how do you stop accidents from occurring when you can’t prevent human error? You don’t. “Organisational safeguards can never be entirely effective.” Instead you must look at what a human error could cause and mitigate these problems quickly, “the surgical teams with the best outcomes were not those who were error free, but those who successfully compensated for the errors that had occurred.” Tying this into the topic of complex problems; when trying to solve complex problems it is essential that human error is considered as a factor, it can sometimes be the root of the problem, and other times it could have exacerbated the problem. However if human error is a major cause, preventing it from occurring in the future is extremely difficult yet very important to fix because it is almost guaranteed to eventually reoccur again.

The second major theme within the readings was about the relational nature of humans. One of the key behaviours that sets us apart from other animals is how we relate to one another, human relationships are extremely complex and very difficult to understand. However, as Haslam et. al. discussed optimising these relationships within businesses is critical and they give a strong warning of “the dangers of a failure to recognise and harness an organisation’s social capital… [the workforce's] loyalty and commitment.” There are five key reasons for creating a positive social identity (or positive relationships within the company): “a) liking for the relevant organisational ingroup, b) organisational citizenship, c) willingness to contribute to collective goals, d) collective action and e) group productivity.” As a result of this the ASPIRe model was formed to provide scaffolding to build a team with, each stage moves a participant from being an individual to being in a team that is within another team that is moving in the same direction as the organisation’s goals. Through this gradual process relationships are formed and social identity grows.

As additional reading I read about the social dynamics of group violence (The PDF can be downloaded here), considering that only a few weeks ago severe rioting was occurring in Britain, I thought it was appropriate to look at how individuals act when in a large angry group of peers. The Australian Institute of Criminology published a paper in 2006 addressing the dynamics of group violence, they outline three key causes for violent mobs: first within a large crowd social rules become less defined, for example in a small-scale conflict a mediator would be able to step-in before it escalates into a fight (a mate steps in to “cool things down”) however when in a crowd this type of mediation is much less likely. Secondly people seek positive experiences in the mobilisation of crowds, for example boredom can be easily broken when apart of a crowd because of it’s apparent ambiguities of what might happen next. Finally, people are attracted to violent crowds because of the promise of violence, that is they actively seek violence. The article draws on the events of the Cronulla riots to explain: here the media did as much as they could to foster an idea of trouble, so young men came not because of the pubic issues of the matter but because they were actively seeking violence.

To get classmates to use this article within the tutorial I would have them contrast how individuals feel and behave in either a well organised workgroup (such as Haslam et. al. were trying to build) or a violent mob. Ideally they would draw on the de-individuation of people within the mob which in turn would tie well into another good blog post I found on the topic of crowd behaviour here.

Image Provided by ~Zendar, Alone in the Crowd, viewed 1st November 2011 <;.

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