Investigating Industrial Investigators: Examining the Impact of A Priori Knowledge and Tunnel Vision Education




MacLean, Carla Lindsay

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Three studies addressed tunnel vision in industrial incident investigation. Study 1 surveyed professional investigators regarding how prior knowledge affects their investigative conclusions. Studies 2 and 3 experimentally explored the true impact of a priori information on investigative behaviour as well as the effectiveness of a debiasing intervention. Findings from Study 1 demonstrate that investigators typically know the people, position and equipment involved in the industrial event and they perceive this information as largely beneficial in their investigations. Study 2 (undergraduates) and Study 3 (professional investigators) employed a mock industrial investigation and found that prior knowledge about worker or equipment safety biased undergraduate- and professional-investigators’ responses. However, bias was effectively reduced with “tunnel vision education.” Professional investigators demonstrated a greater sophistication in their investigative decision making compared to undergraduates. The similarities and differences between undergraduate and professional responding are discussed.



Investigation, Investigators, Industrial, Safety