In the world of sports, it has been discussed for years that football players (sorry non-US readers, we’re talking about American Football) take more risks because they feel invincible while wearing pads and their helmet. If football players psychologically convince themselves to take more risks while wearing a helmet, does that mean that others also do? We may now have an answer.
Dr. Ian Walker and Dr. Tim Gamble, researchers from the University of Bath, recently concluded a study of 80 adults, which measured their willingness to engage in risky behavior based upon what they were wearing on their head. The participants were randomly chosen to either wear a baseball cap or a bike helmet and were tasked with playing a gambling game. The game was pretty simple: the participants were asked to inflate a virtual balloon and with each click of the button they earned points, which also increased the chances of the balloon popping and them losing all of their points. Those who chose to inflate the balloon more were considered to be more likely to engage in risky behavior.
The interesting part is that even though the head gear the participants wore had absolutely nothing to do with the risk taking behavior, the researchers concluded that those who wore the bike helmet were more likely to take more risks.
“The practical implication of our findings might be to suggest more extreme unintended consequences of safety equipment in hazardous situations than has previously been thought. Replicated in real-life settings, this could mean that people using protective equipment might take risks against which that protective equipment cannot reasonably be expected to help,” said Dr. Ian Walker, in a statement on the University of Bath’s website.
Obviously, this should not encourage people to stop wearing safety helmets, especially hard hats. Hard hats have prevented countless job site deaths and an even larger amount of injuries. It does, however make a point that safety cannot just stop with wearing PPE while working in construction. We must also appeal to the psychological aspects of our employees and co-workers and instill a culture of safety.
Full story: Helmet wearing increases risk taking and sensation seeking | University of Bath