What Does Behavioral Psychology Have to Do with our Safety and Security?
Some people freeze when facing a threat. Some ignore warning signs. Some walk right into crisis.
Understanding the motivations behind and reasons for human behavior is the key to keeping ourselves, our family, friends and co-workers safe from threats. This understanding can help us protect ourselves, our family and friends, our colleagues and our communities. For organizations, it can help shape new ways to engage colleagues to ensure a safe work environment.
Our behaviors are a product of both our conscious and unconscious brains, working together to get us through our day. We mostly think our conscious mind has the most control over our behavior, it’s in the driver’s seat. We make choices and decisions with our rational minds using logic, based on our knowledge and wisdom. This concept has been a core principle in politics, religion, philosophy, democracy since the dawn of time. Yet, people tend to be swayed by the mood, behavior and actions of others in our environment, without our conscious knowledge. Our environment has a powerful influence on how we behave. When our behavior is unconsciously affected by things such as peer pressure, fear and panic, this can play out very dangerously in an emergency. Herd mentality, denial, the bystander effect, mob violence and stampedes are all cases in point.
The good news is “human behavior is plastic, incredibly pliable,” according to social scientist, Phillip Zimbardo. This means that we can do better when it comes to managing risk, safety and security. We need to shift the paradigm from a traditional command and control approach of emergency management and crisis prevention. We should approach this in a way that gives people the power to understand and account for why their behavior is likely to play out in an emergency. Then we can begin building a safer mindset and new behaviors. I’ll continue to explore topics related to how our behavior impacts our survival, the risks we take and how we make decisions in an emergency.
Until next time.