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original treatments for arm and hand abrasions.
Fellow workers had marveled at his boasted dex-
terity in snatching his hand from the "pinch point"
just in time when the fast-revolving pulley took
hold of the stationary belt.33

It is the so-called narrow escape or non-injury accident which is the invariable precursor of the major accident. It is ironic that Heinrich cites unsafe traffic practices to illustrate this cause and effect relationship:

How many drivers of automobiles would care to
assert that they had never had narrow escapes from
injury when driving across railroad grade crossings
without being absolutely sure that no train was
coming, when cutting in and out of traffic, when
attempting to beat the traffic lights, when passing
cars on grades and hills, or when, because of
momentary inattentiveness, they were surprised by
the sudden appearance of a pedestrian or another
car directly ahead and dangerously close? And when
an accidental injury does occur, is it not probable,
at least in the average case, that unsafe practice
had previously been committed and that there had
been previous narrow escapes ? 34

One of the most common examples of unsafe behavior is tailgating. Let us consider the two cars which are traveling at 50 miles per hour. Both are in the same lane, with two car lengths separating the vehicles. The proper separation is one car length for each 10 miles per hour of speed. Using 18 feet as the length of vehicle, and the factor 1.467 to convert miles per hour to feet per second:

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The great majority of drivers can react within 0.75 seconds. If the driver ahead suddenly applies his brakes, the factor of safety with a 5-car length separation is obtained by dividing the available time by the minimum reaction time:

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If the first car suddenly applied his brakes, the tailgater will make contact, the severity of which will depend primarily on the rate of deceleration of the first car. Sooner or later the tailgater will be involved in a minor accident. Like the millwright flipping a pulley belt by hand, he exibits low factor behavior. If the minor accident does not trigger a change in the low factor behavior, a major injury accident will occur.

Smoking, Cancer And Cognitive Dissonance

Festinger's theory of cognitive dissonance has been tested by himself and other researchers. 35 The theory is simple: Dissonance is a negative drive state which occurs whenever an individual simultaneously holds two cognitions (ideas, beliefs, opinions) which are psychologically inconsistent. Since the occurrence of dissonance is unpleasant, individuals strive to reduce it by changing one or both cognitions to make them compatible. For example, if a person believes that cigarette smoking causes cancer and simultaneously knows that he smokes cigarettes, he experiences dissonance. His cognition, "I smoke cigarettes," is inconsistent with "cigarette smoking produces cancer." The logical way to reduce dissonance is to stop smoking. But, this is by no means easy. Thus, a person will usually devise another cognition. He might belittle the evidence linking cigarette smoking to cancer (''Most of the data are clinical rather than experimental"); he might associate with other cigarette smokers ("If Sam, Jack, and Harry smoke, then it can't be very dangerous"); he may change to filter-tipped cigarettes and delude himself that the filter traps the cancer-producing materials; he may convince himself that smoking is an important and highly pleasurable activity ("I'd rather have a shorter but more enjoyable life than a longer, unenjoyable one"); or he may actually make a virtue out of smoking by developing a devil-may-care inage of himself, flaunting danger.

All of these behaviors reduce dissonance by resolving the absurdity involved in going out of one's way to contract cancer. Thus, the theory of dissonance does not support the assumption that man is rational, rather it suggests that he a rationalizing animal -- he attempts to appear rational to himself. Self preservation, we have been told, is the first

"law" of nature. But for cigarette smokers the primary behavior force appears to be the discharge of anxiety (reduction of cognitive dissonance). Are accident involved factory workers, tailgating drivers, and cigarette smokers the only groups of people who defy the supposed first law of nature?

The Seat Belt Syndrome

Seat belts can also be used to demonstrate cognitive dissonance.

In 1961 two researchers from the Traffic Institute of Northwestern University conducted an experiment with I.B.M. in four of their district offices. So I.B.M. employees were subjected to a barrage of promotional material through a special seat belt program. Concurrently, employees were offered a special discount on the price of belts. One approach stressed the chances of an accident and the possibility of grim results. It presented the seat belt as an injury and death preventative. The other approach related seat belts to the professional racing driver. It was hypothesized that the latter approach would be superior because of: 1. identification with a male ego-ideal and the resultant motivation to accept the communication; 2. the effect of a credible source upon communication acceptance; and 3. the lack of anxiety arousing content associated with the other approach. A third group served as a quasi-control and was exposed to a varied approach, the sort which is invariably used to promote seat belt sales.

Results showed that the professional driver appeal induced a greater number of employees to purchase seat belts than did the scare approach. The professional driver approach induced six percent sales, the scare approach induced a 3.4 percent sales, and the varied approached induced 4.6 percent sales. What is the explanation for these poor results? One reason advanced is that the seat belt itself, if purchased, would be an anxiety producing symbol of a serious injury or fatal automobile accident. Few people are willing to accept the possibility of being involved in a serious accident. Purchase of seat belts would be at least a tacit recognition of this possibility. The seat belts were not accepted because of their unpleasant association.

Could cost have been a factor in the 1.3.M. experiment? What would happen if the seat belts were provided free of charge? We do not have to wonder as to the answer. While seat belts are the most effective available protection against injury or death in automobile crashes, they are used by only a minority. 37 It is pathetic to realize that even when cars come equipped with seat belts only 32 percent of the drivers use them. 58 Most drivers do not believe they will be involved in serious accidents. If they did, they would use the seat belts. A bad accident may hopen to somebody else - but not to them.

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If the first car suddenly applied his brakes, the tailgater will make contact, the severity of which will depend primarily on the rate of deceleration of the first car. Sooner or later the tailgater will be involved in a minor accident. Like the millwright flipping a pulley belt by hand, he exibits low factor behavior. If the minor accident does not trigger a change in the low factor behavior, a major injury accident will occur.

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Smoking, Cancer And Cognitive Dissonance

Festinger's theory of cognitive dissonance has been tested by himself and other researchers. 35 The theory is simple: Dissonance is a negative drive state which occurs whenever an individual simultaneously holds two cognitions (ideas, beliefs, opinions) which are psychologically inconsistent. Since the occurrence of dissonance is unpleasant, individu strive to reduce it by changing one or both cognitions to make them compatible. For example, if a person believes that cigarette smoking causes cancer and simultaneously knows that he smokes cigarettes, he experiences dissonance. His cognition, "I smoke cigarettes," is inconsistent with "cigarette smoking produces cancer." The logical way to reduce dissonanc is to stop smoking. But, this is by no means easy. Thus, a person will usually devise another cognition. He might belittle the evidence linking cigarette smoking to cancer ("Most of the data are clinical rather than experimental"); he might associate with other cigarette smokers ("If Sam, Jack, and Harry smoke, then it can't be very dangerous"); he may change to filter-tipped cigarettes and delude himself that the filter traps the cancer-producing materials; he may convince himself that smoking is an important and highly pleasurable activity ("I'd rather have a shorter but more enjoyable life than a longer, unenjoyable one"); or he may actua make a virtue out of smoking by developing a devil-may-care inage of himself, flaunting danger.

All of these behaviors reduce dissonance by resolving the absurdity involved in going out of one's way to contract cancer. Thus, the theory of dissonance does not support the assumption that man is rational, rath it suggests that he a rationalizing animal -- he attempts to appear rational to himself. Self preservation, we have been told, is the first

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