✈️ 🚄No Need To Fly Edition 
Welcome to a slightly extended version of the Human Risk Newsletter, containing lovingly-curated Behavioural Science (BeSci) inspired content.
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Coming up in this edition
1. A cheating Chess Grandmaster illustrates Human Risk in action;

2. Driver reactions to a Google Maps error illustrate how Cognitive Biases can sometimes let us down; 
3. An advertising campaign that smartly deploys a digital BeSci Intervention;

4. Interesting research on boredom might sound like an oxymoron, but is Something that made me think; and

5. Hitting a musical note is the Something for the weekend recommendation.


Human Risk in action

In a highly competitive field, a cheating Chess Grandmaster nicely illustrates Human Risk in action.
It's been a busy couple of weeks on the Human Risk front. 

I had considered writing about the LOT (Polish airline) Cabin Operations Director who was fired after posting derogatory comments about another carrier's staff on social media.

I also thought about featuring the story of the man who "involuntarily" triggered a security alert at Munich airport.
But in the end, I opted for the story of Igor Rausis, a Chess Grandmaster:
Rausis admitted to cheating in a competition by using a mobile phone in a toilet. He was under observation following an investigation by the Fair Play Commission of FIDE, the International Chess Federation.  

FIDE became suspicious of Rausis when his rating suddenly began to increase somewhat dramatically, from around 2,500 where it had been for a number of years:
Ratings in chess use the Elo System where points transfer from a losing player to a winning player. A ratings increase of the kind Rausis achieved is unusual, particularly for a player of his experience.

According to this article, Rausis is alleged to have achieved this by selectively playing against much less skilled opponents; including participating in tournaments that were well below his level. While that's not technically against the letter of the rules, it falls outside the spirit. 

To find out what explanation Rausis came up with for his behaviour and to read more about the incident, I recommend this article.
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Bi-Weekly Cognitive Bias

Driver reactions to a Google Maps error illustrates how Cognitive Biases can induce Human Risk.
Drivers on their way to Denver airport who found an accident blocking their path, turned to Google Maps for an alternative. Unfortunately, as this CNN report explains, the suggested route turned out not to be a proper road, leaving almost a hundred drivers stuck in a muddy field.
The story neatly illustrates how two Cognitive Biases combine to cause Human Risk.

The first is Wilful Blindnesswhen we know something isn't right and yet don't challenge itIn this case, trusting technology without considering its limitations.  As a traffic expert rightly pointed out to CNN:

You are driving. Google Maps is not driving. Google Maps is not perfect. You need to know where you are going and, if it does not look like that’s where you should be going, turn around and try again.

To see quite how bad this bias can get, I recommend this article that highlights quite how frequently professional truck drivers make this mistake, even when the evidence is right before their very eyes — then read about a couple whose house has been hit 17 times.

The second bias is a reliance on Social Proof; presuming that because lots of other people are doing something, that it must be a good idea. Sometimes it can be beneficial, but only when the people whose behaviour we are copying, know what they are doing. That wasn't the case here. As one driver caught up in the incident explained:

"My thought was, 'Well there are all these other cars in front of me so it must be OK.' So I just continued”.

To see the CNN report click here.
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A BeSci Intervention

An online advertising campaign illustrates how we are drawn to things that look familiar to us.
Deutsche Bahn, the German national train operator, wanted to encourage more people to go on holiday by train. That's arguably a tough market when you're up against airlines promoting glamourous foreign destinations. 

What they came up with was a Greta Thunberg-friendly ad campaign called "No Need To Fly", which highlighted locations in Germany, of similar beauty to those overseas. In this case, taking a view of Venice and juxtaposing it against a similar scene from Hamburg.
The doppelganger images were sourced using Machine Learning and then targetted at social media users who had shown an interest in travelling to the overseas destination featured. In each case, the price shown was calculated based on the individual's location and the relative air/rail fares to the two destinations in question.
The campaign seeks to exploit the idea that we're more comfortable doing things that feel familiar; suggesting an alternative destination that looks like somewhere we've already thought about going to, could well make us more receptive to it than we might otherwise be.
Source: Ogilvy Germany
You can learn more about the campaign here.
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Something that made me think

New research that looks at boredom is surprisingly interesting.  By understanding what drives it, we can find ways to avoid it.
Most of us don't actively set out to be bored. Yet we can often find ourselves suffering from boredom. Why that happens is that subject of new research entitled Why Boredom Is Interesting.
What the researchers discovered is that boredom can serve a useful purpose:

"Much like pain, it may not be pleasant, but boredom critically alerts us that we’re unable or unwilling to successfully engage attention in meaningful activities. Whether that’s good or bad rests ultimately on how we respond."

The research, which includes examples like the Russian who stole an army tank and drove it into a supermarket because he was bored, is fascinating reading and has some useful advice about how to deal with it; boredom that is, not tank theft.

Perhaps something to bookmark in Pocket and read when you're bored...

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Something for the weekend

A Harvard psychology department initiative called The Music Lab uses citizen science to learn more about how music impacts us.
If like me, you enjoy listening to music, you'll find Harvard's Music Lab fascinating.

Using what they call "citizen science" the psychology department runs online experiments to see what impact music has on us. 
The Music Lab is a lot of fun. Each experiment takes just a few minutes and you'll learn something about the impact music has on you. But you'll also be helping a scientific study. 
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Incase you missed it...

Two recent additions to the Human Risk Blog:

The Surprising Power Of Mirroring


How Human Risk also comes in Customer Form.
If you've not yet followed my recommendation and watched Chernobyl, the HBO/Sky hit TV series, then you really should.  The series may be over, but they've just released a new podcast episode which begins by highlighting rather worrying parallels with another recent nuclear accident in Russia

Speaking of accidents, I previously featured a story about a London Underground train that travelled with doors open due to driver error. If you thought that was scary, then imagine the same thing happening at 280km/hr on a Japanese Shinkansen bullet train
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Coming soon...

Next month sees the launch of Risk Awareness Week; 5 days of free webinars covering a range of risk management topics. Featuring over 30 speakers, including:
Once registered you can attend sessions live or watch a playback at a time to suit you. 

That's it for this time. Don't forget that you can get regular BeSci updates by following @humanriskblog on Twitter and/or connecting with me on LinkedIn.

Feedback, as ever, welcome. 


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The newsletter is brought to you by Human Risk, a Training & Consulting Firm that specialises in the deployment of BeSci in the fields of Risk, Compliance, Conduct and Culture
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