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Title: Stress and risk perception in safety critical work
Author: Morgan, James Iain
ISNI:       0000 0001 3420 7622
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2007
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Well-Being Audit' carried out at Eurostar (UK) Plc. in 2001. The results of this first survey suggested that specifically those individuals working in safety-critical departments reported lower levels of physiological and psychological well-being compared with other employees. Although this audit did not measure risk attitudes or behaviour, it was envisaged that these safety-critical workers may be subject to a number of additional stressors as a consequence of their specific working environment and the need for them to negotiate personal and general risk on a day-to-day basis. The present thesis examined the relationship between the appraisal of work characteristics, psychological well-being, and risk behaviour in the safety-critical environment. . The first exploratory study was a repetition of the original well-being audit. Using the' same measures as at time one, this afforded a comparison between ratings in 2001 and two years later, in 2003. New measures were also included in order to explore the potential relationships . of interest. The results of this survey suggested that while well-being had improved, high-risk ·attitudes were predicted by both work characteristics and dispositional affect. ~tings of anxiety . were associated with an increase in risky attitudes, a relationship which was not easily explained by a history ofcontradictory research findings. The remainder. of the thesis sought to evaluate some of these c'ontradictory findings. Firstly an experimental study conducted in a laboratory setting analysed the contribution of egodepletion to changes in risk behaviour (risk appraisal, and risky decision making) and incidental mood-risk relationships. The findings suggested that fluctuations in risk behaviour are not a direct consequence of the depletion of a self-regulatory resource. Any relationships between mood and risk were masked by the ego-depletion manipulation. In a second experimental study the use of the simulation heuristic was examined as a possible mediator/moderator of the moodrisk relationship. The findings revealed that wh;en par:ticipants were able to minimise uncertainty . during the. decision making process they were less likely to take a risk on the Personal Risk Inventory (PR!). The ability to simulate was not related to state or trait mood however. A final applied study used the findings of a concurrent participant observation, and . . accident statistics to develop a'specific Eurostar PersonalInventory (EPRl). The analysis of the relationship between mood and risk behaviour on this measure revealed a strong positive correlation for between both trait anxiety and trait fatigue, and risky decision .making, an association moderated by the ability to simulate. Trait happiness was related to a decrease in rlskydecision making, a direct relationship not affected by the ability t,o simulate, and explained in terms ofmood regulation. The findi~gs provide an insight into. risk behaviour in this specific setting and it is envisaged that there is a clear incentive for further research in this area.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: ESRC
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available