Gibson – a fuller quotation

On page 12 in Chapter 1, I have quoted part of Gibson’s observation on the term “accident”.  The full quotation may be of interest:  it is one of the supports for the idea that the term is not a useful one for scientific or research (and hence for practitioner) usage.

“The term ‘accident’, it seems to me, refers to a makeshift concept with a hodgepodge of legal, medical and statistical overtones.  Two of its meanings are incompatible.  Defined as a harmful encounter with the environment, a danger not averted, an accident is a psychological phenomenon, subject to prediction and control.  But defined as an unpredictable event, it is by definition uncontrollable.  The two meanings are hopelessly entangled in common usage.  There is no hope of defining it for research purposes.  Hence I suggest that the word be discarded in scientific discussion.”

Gibson, James J 1961 The contribution of  experimental psychology to the formulation of the problem of safety – a brief for basic research.  Proceedings of the conference – behavioural approach to accident research.  Association for the Aid of Crippled Children.  New York, USA

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