Chapter 8.1: The Human- Basic Psychological Principles

Chapter 8.1: The Human- Basic Psychological Principles


Work always involves humans. Humans are complex beings and their behaviour and their health is the result of interaction within and between their internal biological, psychological and social systems and their physical and social environment. This chapter outlines elements of psychology relevant to Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) professional practice. Although the discipline is influenced by many different schools of thought, modern psychological practice employs scientific methods. Particularly relevant to OHS practice, are behavioural psychology (the foundation of behaviour-based safety) and cognitive psychology (which highlights the cognitive capacities of workers, and errors that can occur in decision making). Also, this chapter describes the physiological bases of some psychological phenomena to be considered when improving and protecting the health and safety of workers, and provides basic information about personality psychology and mental disorders. Finally, implications for OHS practice are considered using incentive schemes and behaviour-based safety as examples.
Keywords:health, behaviour, cognition, personality, attributions, psychological disorders, OHS, work

First year of publication: 2012

Current Version: 2012

Chapter 8.1: The Human- Basic Psychological Principles

Table of contents

1 Introduction
1.1 Distinguishing between psychology and psychiatry
2 Historical development of modern psychology
3 Psychobiology
3.1 Structure and function of the brain
3.2 Some physiological consequences of stress
4 Behavioural psychology
4.1 Types of reinforcement
4.2 Learned helplessness
5 Cognitive psychology
5.1 Cognitive architecture and information-processing models
5.2 Models of memory
5.3 Cognitive biases in decision making and causal attribution
6 Personality psychology
6.1 Personality testing
6.2 Accident-prone personality
7 Mental disorders
8 Implications for OHS practice
8.1 Incentive schemes
8.2 Behaviour-based safety
9 Summary
Key authors and thinkers

Dr Carlo Caponecchia BA(Psych); PhD (Psychology) Senior Lecturer, School of Aviation, University of New South Wales

Carlo is an academic at the University of New South Wales, and holds a bachelors degree and PhD in Psychology. He specialises in psychological hazards at work, and teaches in the area of workplace safety and risk management. His research comprises human factors issues (fatigue, stress, bullying); risk perception, communication and behaviour; and error classification. Carlo has provided expert opinions and consultancy advice to several industries on safety-related projects, and is involved in training, independent workplace investigations, and organisational development.

Peer reviewer
Bill Pappas BBSc, BA, BEd, DipTeaching, MVocCouns Organisational Psychologist National Convenor, Australian Psychological Society, Occupational Health Psychology Interest Group.

No learning outcomes have been developed for this chapter as it is considered introductory or underpinning knowledge.