Anchor-based goals and personality effects on hazard identification in risk assessment

Piers Fleming, Harry England

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Abstract

Hazard identification is a crucial first step in risk assessment. There are many cases in which hazard identification is carried out by non-experts. One concern is that valid hazards are overlooked and so not considered for mitigation or prevention. This study examined whether a goal-setting anchor could encourage the identification of more hazards and so reduce the likelihood that they are overlooked. Seventy-two participants were recruited to an online study to identify hazards in four vignettes. The participants were randomly allocated to a high or low anchor condition in which they were told that experts typically identify at least two or at least eight hazards. Participants also completed a five-factor personality measure. It was found that, compared to the low anchor, the high anchor increased word count, time on task and number of hazards identified. The effect of the anchor on hazards identified was robust even taking into account personality, time on task and word count. Conscientiousness was also associated with identifying more hazards. Overall, the use of anchors to set goals for hazard identification offers a low-cost intervention to improve risk assessment for non-experts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-118
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Risk Analysis and Crisis Response
Volume10
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020

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