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Title: Perceptions of risk, incentive and situational influences in young climbing groups
Author: Musson, Joseph Anthony
ISNI:       0000 0004 2705 8835
Awarding Body: Institute of Education, University of London
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 1992
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The research has sought to shed light on decision making among climbing groups while on expedition by identifying and correlating the major factors that affect it. Perspectives from the psychology of group dynamics and decision-making provide the theoretical basis for investigation. All data were gathered from climbers during actual mountain expeditions. The study is thus a naturalistic one rather than being laboratory based. The main study investigated young mountain climbers from the standpoint of how they perceived themselves and how they perceived the operation of the whole group of which they were a member. A picture was constructed on the basis of three factors: Incentive or what draws the climber to the top; Risk, or what limits the response to that incentive, and Situation, or what real world constraints are operative at the time. To provide a psychological profile of the climber while actually undertaking an expedition an intervention method of data gathering was implemented. This consisted of questions administered on four occasions: one: while still at base "setting out"; two: "en route" after a significant part of the expedition had been completed; three: on the summit, or when the objective or goal had been achieved, and four: when the group had returned to base. Subjects were between the ages of 13 years to 18 years from 14 schools. Data were collected over a period of 10 weeks during weeklong residential outdoor activity courses. A comparison of ratings of the three concepts, Risk, Incentive, and Situation over the stages of the climb both for the Individual and the Group highlighted several findings: 1. Climbers' feelings about the strength/importance of risk acceptance and of incentive concepts increased as the climb progressed, but dipped at the completion of the climb. Situational factors varied throughout the climb. 2. The climbers backgrounds had varying influences on their responses across the climb. Some explanatory variables, such as level of experience, ability and fitness provided no differentiation, while others such as group status, commitment, risk level and weather conditions made a consistent contribution. 3. Individuals perceived the group's point of view differently from their own. 4. Incentive, risk and situational similarities between stages for climbers' own ratings varied in strength across the climb. 5. The predictions of responses for the next stage were consistently underestimated or at least mis-estimated, and seemed bound by current - state responses. 6. These predictions were particularly adrift for risk and incentive, though fairly accurate for situational factors. 7. The evaluations made about the group were consistently higher throughout the climb than the evaluations made by climbers about themselves showing that the group was perceived to have higher incentive levels and was more willing to take risks than the individual.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available