Occupation, Personality, and Accidents: An Exploratory Study of Aggregate Associations
Final rept. 1 Oct 2004-1 May 2005
NAVAL HEALTH RESEARCH CENTER SAN DIEGO CA
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Accident rates vary widely across U.S. Navy enlisted occupations. Incumbents characteristics may affect rates, but the infrequency of accidents makes it hard to test this hypothesis by studying individuals. The study of aggregates is an alternative methodology that has not been applied to this problem. Therefore, this study related personality profiles to accident rates for 36 entry-level U.S. Navy occupations. Moderately strong associations showed that specific personality constructs e.g., hostility predicted accident rates better than broad personality dimensions e.g., neuroticism. Higher average hostility, impulsiveness, excitement seeking, and disagreeableness and lower average gregariousness were related to higher accident rates. Occupational accident rates therefore may depend on the proportion of aggressive, antisocial individuals in the occupation. However, the behavior of high-risk individuals also may increase risks for friends and coworkers. The increases could be analogous to second-hand risk in smoking and to contagion models of antisocial behavior. The study of aggregate-level associations could shift the conceptual paradigm for accident research. Instead of focusing entirely on individual psychological dynamics, aggregate associations direct attention to the potential payoff from combining individual and group dynamics to provide better models of accidents. Multilevel modeling tools are available to evaluate this possibility.
- Weapons Effects (Biological)
- Safety Engineering