Vol. 13, No. 3

As a benefit of your ASSE membership, Society Update highlights the latest Society news, activities, upcoming events and notable member achievements. Members are encouraged to submit news, announcements, questions or comments to Cathy Wegener.

Upcoming Events
March 1-31
ASSE Election Voting
March 11
The Safety Professionals Handbook Webinar Series: Fire Prevention & Protection
March 15
Math Review Workshop
March 16-18
ASP Workshop
March 18
Webinar: How to Effectively Train Your Spanish-Speaking Workforce—Simple & Practical Tips to Get Your Point Across
March 19-21
CSP Workshop
March 24
Live Webcast From the Applied Ergonomics Conference: Healthcare Issues—Track 1
March 25
Live Webcast From the Applied Ergonomics Conference: Healthcare Issues—Track 2
March 29
Math Review Workshop
March 30-April 1
ASP Workshop

ASSEF/Liberty Mutual Research Fellow Shares Study Highlights

Social modeling is a construct that has been studied since Bandura, Ross and Ross’s (1961) famous Bobo doll experiment examining the effects of a model’s aggressive behavior on the subsequent behavior of children. Social modeling does not occur at one point in time; it is a process. An individual first observes a model engaging in a certain behavior and the consequences of that behavior. Then the individual cognitively evaluates what s/he has observed. That cognitive evaluation may lead to a modification of the individual’s old behaviors or the acquisition of new behaviors.

The influence of social modeling on safety is an underdeveloped area of research. The researchers examined diverse fields of research, including transportation, training and aviation that have reliably found significant results pertaining to the influences of social modeling allowing for a more comprehensive literature review. Six electronic databases that represent different fields of research were searched: PsycINFO, Ergonomics Abstracts, ERIC, PubMed, MEDLINE and Web of Science. Key terms used in the search included social modeling and social learning. In total, 111 references were used in the review.

The implications of social modeling are tremendous because the acquisition of new behaviors can occur at a faster pace than through trial-and-error learning. Also, the forgoing of trial-and-error learning leads to a greater level of safety. Acquiring knowledge and competencies through social modeling leads to fewer dangerous mistakes made directly by the learner.

One research-related advantage of social modeling is that is can be generalized for many types of work environments. Researchers may use the preliminary conceptual model to guide future safety research that involves examining social modeling in numerous work environments. Studies may be designed using elements of the conceptual model as a way to create change in workplace safety behavior.

For example, accessing individuals’ knowledge, values, beliefs and attitudes regarding safety issues would be one way to determine the extent that individuals may attend to the safety behavior of models in the work environment. It would require a large-scale study to examine the complete conceptual model at one time, so future researchers may focus on just a few components as a way to gain insight into the utility of social modeling with respect to safety.