Practice, Repetition, Habit, Routine, Ritual and Decision Making in Risk

Practice, Repetition, Habit, Routine, Ritual and Decision Making in Risk

Most decisions made by people are unconscious. The idea that decision making is brain activity between individuals is simply not supported by the evidence ( ). We know that humans embody habits, repetitions, rituals, routines and recurring decisions as heuristics. Most heuristics are locked in place as body memory, collective and muscle memory, in this way humans can be fast and efficient without having to grind away with slow rational thinking in order to get things done. You can see examples of human heuristics here:

However, these are only brain-centric in focus. There is much more to how people make decisions when one considers the many social influences on decision making ( When a group repeat and practice a process, the cues of that process are shared between workers. It is these ‘cues’ that trigger decision making as collective heuristics. When a group of people ‘see’ these cues, they automatically enact decisions without thinking rationally. In this way, the thinking is held in the shared cues, not in individual brains. This is why people in groups can make super-fast decisions because they ‘feel’ their way into activity. This ‘collective mind’ is created by practice and repetition. This is how humans create ‘flow’  and ‘optimise’ decision speed. I discuss this foundational idea here through the One Brain, Three Minds (1B3M) Model ( ). Whenever we introduce 1B3M it resonates quickly with people and they wonder why they have not considered it before in the way people tackle risk.

So much of how Safety approaches risk is loaded with the assumptions of ‘brain-centrism’. We see how Safety thinks about decision making it in the many flawed models of investigations ( ) and the narrow ideas of behaviourism in the industry. Consequently, most approaches to knowing in safety are about training, parroting and ‘rewiring the brain’, a complete distraction from the reality that 95% of all decision making on site is heuristical (individual and social).

How strange this industry that when it doesn’t understand what is outside of its worldview, it demonises transdiciplinary worldviews rather than seek discovery in why it doesn’t understand. This is how we get investigations that blame the worker ( ). This is how we get crazy assumptions like the Danny Cheney investigation that assumes a ‘conscious’ decision was made to die ( ). Here is slide 10 from the presentation:


Here we have poor Danny dead on the ground and here is Safety ‘attributing’ consciousness to someone they couldn’t interview! This is madness!

Most decision making is NOT conscious!

This is the kind of rubbish Safety makes up when it’s silly assumptions of behaviourism and brain-centrism are let lose. This is what you get from a mono-disciplinary approach to knowing that thinks decision making is rational, individual and brain-centric. Poor olde Danny chose NOT to comply, even though we couldn’t speak to Danny. Poor olde Danny chose unsafety because we believe ‘safety is a choice you make’ and ‘all accidents are preventable’.

When your worldview is founded on nonsense ideas, you will get investigations such as this.

Perhaps have a look at what the Court considered in the matter and how the Court does NOT attribute consciousness to Mr Cheney. Even then, the court doesn’t consider many critical factors associated with collective mind, ritual, routines, practice, habit and heuristics but at least it is less narrow than Safety. Indeed, the principle contractor John Holland came in for a fair belting by the Court for their methodology.

None of the critical factors I would consider in this case were even part of the enquiry! When your worldview is founded on the disciplines of law and engineering, why would one consider discussing critical social psychological factors such as: habits, repetitions, rituals, routines and recurring decisions in heuristics. In my research, most events occur when there is incongruence between social heuristics and context.

If you want to learn more about how the SEEK approach to investigations can broaden and expand your investigations methodology you can study here:

One Brain Three Minds from Human Dymensions on Vimeo.

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