Understanding the basics of human psychology is incredibly fascinating and can shed a lot of light on why we do some of the things we do. What it can also do though is to help us to avoid accidents and to get more from ourselves, which is why it’s a useful area for study for everyone from CEOs to health and safety inspectors.
Of particular interest when it comes to health and safety is why people can sometimes be so oblivious to clear hazards and problems. Why do people walk out into the middle of the road? Why do they fall down man-holes? Does no one ever look where they’re going? Here we will look at why the human brain is fallible in the way and what you can do about it if you work in a relevant field.
What you have to remember about the human brain is that it takes in a huge amount of information on a daily basis. If you look up from this article right now then you will be greeted by an almost infinite amount of information – from the people moving around outside to the speck of dust on the wall to the faint sound of a tap dripping and cars going past the window. There’s no way that your brain can take all this information in and save it as you walk around outside, so all it can afford to do is to show us the things that it deems most relevant. As the human brain evolved in the wild out on the African planes though, these elements will not be things like manholes or glass left on the floor – they’ll often be things that have less bearing on our day to day lives these days.
One example of something our brain will bring to our attention is movement. If you are walking down the street and something suddenly starts moving in your peripheral vision then you will be likely to notice that movement as it could potentially signal danger. Likewise our brains tend to be drawn to particularly vibrant colours that seem out of place in their surrounds – like reds, yellows and oranges (which is why if you see traffic cones for sale they’ll tend to be in these colours). These colours might have once signalled fire, snake or tiger and so today our head turns in that direction.
This can be used to our advantage such in the case as flashing signs and other hazard indicators, but sometimes it can work against us – such as when we get distracted by something moving in the distance and so hurt ourselves.
Another thing we will often look at is human faces and studies show that from a young age we start to pay more attention to faces than other stimuli. This is probably because faces signal potential competition/attackers or mates. This is also the reason that a lot of advertising includes images of people in it – which is also a problem sometimes when it comes health and safety.
Kevin Taylor is an auto blogger and is passionate about cars. In one of his recent posts he has talked about the safety measures one needs to take while driving a car.
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