Chapter 8.2: The Human – Basic Principles of Social Interaction

Chapter 8.2: The Human - Basic Principles of Social Interaction


Aspects of how humans interact with one another socially are important for Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) practice because all work tasks involve some kind of human element, whether in completing the tasks, being part of a workgroup or planning how to perform work. OHS can be affected by how we communicate with one another, treat one another in groups, and influence each other’s behaviours and attitudes. These elements, along with how people obey commands, assume powerful roles and affect group decision making, are considered in this chapter.
Keywords: group dynamics, leadership, group decision making, social identity theory, attribution theory, social comparison theory, group membership, social norms and group pressure to conform, performance, power, compliance, attitudes, conflict resolution, procedural and distributive justice

First year of publication: 2012

Current Version: 2012

Chapter 8.2: The Human - Basic Principles of Social Interaction

Table of contents

1 Introduction
2 Historical development of social psychology
3 Understanding social psychology in an OHS context
4 Perceiving individuals
4.1 Attribution theory
4.2 Biases in attributing causes to the actions of others
5 Self in relation to others: Social comparison theory
6 Group membership
6.1 Ingroups and outgroups
6.2 Social identity and self-categorisation theories
6.3 Stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination
6.4 The contact hypothesis
6.5 Changes in self-categorisation
7 Norms and group pressure to conform
8 Task performance
8.1 Decision-making biases
8.2 Group task performance
9 Power
9.1 Compliance
9.2 Sources of power
9.3 Obedience to authority – the Milgram experiments
10 Attitudes and behavior
10.1 The theory of planned behavior
11 Attitude change
11.1 Cognitive dissonance theory
11.2 Persuasion theory
12 Understanding and resolving conflict
12.1 Competition and cooperation
12.2 Conflict management styles
12.3 Roles during conflict
12.4 Distributive and procedural justice
13 Implications for OHS practice
14 Summary

Key thinkers and useful references

Bill Pappas BA(Psych); BBSc, BA, BEd, DipTeaching, MVocCouns Organisational Psychologist National Convenor, Australian Psychological Society (APS) Occupational Health Psychology Interest Group

Bill has 26 years experience in organisational behaviour, organisational development, and occupational health, safety and wellbeing psychology. He has held positions as university lecturer, managing director of a psychological services consultancy, staff development manager, and with an OHS regulator. Bill is the Australian representative on the International Coordinating Group for Occupational Health Psychology and a member of the Safety Institute of Australia, the European Academy of Occupational Health Psychology, and the International Association of Applied Psychology. Also, he is affiliated with the American Psychological Society and the (American) Society for Occupational Health Psychology.

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

An expert on psychological hazards at work, Carlo teaches in the area of workplace safety and risk management. His research interests include human factors issues (fatigue, stress, bullying); risk perception, communication and behaviour; and error classification. Carlo has provided consultancy advice to several industries on safety-related projects and is involved in training, independent workplace investigations and organisational development. He is a member of the APS Occupational Health Psychology Interest Group and convenes the Risk Management Interest Group in the International Association for Workplace Bullying and Harassment.

Eleanor H. Wertheim MA, PhD, FAPS Professor (Personal Chair), School of Psychological Science, La Trobe University

Eleanor teaches in the La Trobe University professional psychology program and conducts research on cooperative approaches to resolving conflict. She is first author of Skills for Resolving Conflict, and has provided professional development expertise to a wide range of professional groups, United Nations staff and international diplomats. Eleanor is a Fellow of the Australian Psychological Society (APS) a member of the national executive committee of the APS Occupational Health Psychology Interest Group.

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


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