Theory of Knowledge Essay

Subject: Psychology
Type: Expository Essay
Pages: 4
Word count: 1030
Topics: Cognitive Psychology, Management

To what extent do our senses create the sense of safety and fear?

Relating to aviation, how certain are we that flying is the safest means of transport available? The number of accidents related to air transport as compared to other means of transport are significantly fewer. Though there may be an 80% to 100% fatality rate when an air crash occurs, according to Morris, the percentage of accidents that occur in air transports averages at 0.07%, which makes it significantly lower than any other (Morris). Other transport means, like motorcycle, experience up to 212% in accidents per billion passenger miles. Water transport is at a 3.7%. Air transport is safer due to the meticulous nature of all safety procedures undertaken by both the passengers and the staff. This is in contrast to means like road transport whose safety measures are not as stringent. Water and rail as well may have high safety standards, but they do not measure up to those taken in air transport.

Senses accorded to humanity greatly contribute to their feeling safe or fearful. A sense of familiarity, either with place or person, also contributes to the same in accordance with Richman (Richman). The aspect of being familiar with an ordeal, a person or a place gives an individual a great amount of confidence and therefore a sense of safety. Basing the argument on Steven’s findings, our senses greatly contribute to either fearfulness or a feeling of safety depending on whether or not the individual has had prior interaction with the object in question, air transport. Over time, however, some of these perceptions have changed, while others have remained basic, in that, as Sobaca explains, some passengers get uneasy in all flights they are in till landing despite having had prior experience (Sobaca). Carr calls this ‘backseat driver syndrome’, where the passenger feels uneasy by not knowing what exactly is going on in the airplane mechanisms and systems (Carr). Acquiring information about aspects such as crew training will help create a familiarity with the element. Wells builds up the Aviation safety standards on the 5-M model, Man, Machine, Medium, Mission, and Management. This is meant to reassure public. How one chooses to perceive it is completely subjective. Hearing of such stringent measures associated with a means of transport will create a sense of familiarity therefore confidence in the audience. They may feel safer and readier to attempt flying.

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With our five senses, we are can perceive and thereafter draw conclusions about what we have seen, or heard, depending on the roused senses. Often, the sights that are associated with air travel show great advancements in technology, most basically though is a risk. According to Karwowski and Salvendy, human sensory perception and cognition can detect the presence or absence of targets within our environs and accordingly formulate the necessary responses in relation to the targets. This ability will determine whether or not one feels either safe in their circumstances at the time or fearful (Waldemar Karwowski). Being witness to a plane crash greatly contributes to such perspective and cognition derivations. Nonetheless, a great minimum of the worldwide population witness air crashes. Successful flights being the daily sight in, for example, neighborhoods near airports with no register of ever having an accident on its runway or surrounding. Part of preventive measure being weather information provision (Wells). A perception of this contributes to the individual feeling much safer in an airplane as opposed to being on a motorcycle. Glendon, Clarke, and McKenna found that pets’ reactions can influence the sense of safety that persons experience. This was the reason Matt and Ned Roach were not victims of the worst Australian mine explosion on 31st July 1902, the restlessness of their dog when they were headed to the mine caused them to stay behind as it roused a sense of insecurity and fear in them (A. Ian Glendon). Although the greater opinion regarding air travel is about their safety and speed, the few sights associated with air crashes have substantially instilled a great fear of the means of transport. The greater public has nothing but good news to say about air transport. Nevertheless, there have been accidents associated with air transport, for example on August 19th, 1980, Saudia flight 163 caught fire after takeoff from Riyadh international airport on its way to Jeddah. 301 fatalities (Lewis). Knowing such possibilities is bound to create a sense of fear.

On the other hand, safety and fear can be cultured completely independent of the human senses. Lloyd alludes to Hobbes’ findings on fear and imagination as a primary derivative and having no relation to any sense of perception (Lloyd). Cory mentions that the human mind can independently alter its perception of reality and experience only positivity. This means the mind can independently rid itself of fear and create a sense of safety independent of sensory perception (Cory). Senses create a platform on which to base an experience anticipated judging from a previous one. There, however, was no template for one to know whether they ought to fear or feel safe taking part in the activity hence the aspect of fear induced due to imagination applies. For example, an individual that has never had any interaction with any form of aircraft, when for the very first time brought to board an aircraft, will either feel safe or be afraid. This will not have been from any of the senses since the individual has had no prior interaction with the machine. Cocking and Renninger discovered that some instincts are innate and may not need any form of sensory stimulation to be roused (Cocking and Renninger). Seeing as feeling safe and afraid are mutually exclusive, such an experience is independent of sense in terms of previous experience with air transport. 

In conclusion, the subject knowledge question has been adequately proven. By the two claims showing that indeed senses do play a critical role in instilling a sense of safety or a deep sense of fear due to earlier experience and one counterclaim indicating that at some instances, safety and fear can be felt independent of the prior experiential sense of air travel.

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  1. Ian Glendon, Sharon Clarke, Eugene McKenna. Human Safety and Risk Management, Second Edition. CRC Press, 2016, 2016. pdf.
  2. Aigbe, Samuel. A Plane Crash Survivors Miraculous True Story: Kenya Airways Flight KQ431: 169 Fatalities, 10 Survivors. BalboaPress, 2013, 2013. PDF.
  3. Carr, Allen. No More Fear of Flying. Arcturus Publishing, 2014, 2014. pdf.
  4. Cocking, Rodney R. and Ann Renninger. The Development and Meaning of Psychological Distance. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc., Publishers, 1993. PDF.
  5. Cory, Caroline. God among Us : Inside the Mind of the Divine Masters. Cork: Bookbaby, 2014, 2014. pdf.
  6. Lewis, Jack. Worst Plane Crashes in History. Masterlab, 2014, 2014. PDF.
  7. Lloyd, S. A. Hobbes today : insights for the 21st century. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013., 2013. pdf.
  8. Morris, Jessica. City A.M. 15 May 2015. article. 5 December 2017.
  9. Richman, Steven M. Reconsidering Trenton : the small city in the post-industrial age. Jefferson N.C.: McFarland, ©2011., 2011. pdf.
  10. Sobaca. Lose Your Fear of Flying. Luton: Andrews UK Ltd., 2010., 2010. e-Book.
  11. Waldemar Karwowski, Gavriel Salvendy. Advances in Human Factors, Ergonomics, and Safety in Manufacturing and Service Industries. CRC Press, 2010, 2010. pdf.
  12. Wells, Alexander T. Commercial aviation safety. New York: New York : McGraw-Hill, ©2001., 2001. pdf.
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