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Accident ProneA History of Technology, Psychology, and Misfits of the Machine Age$
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John C. Burnham

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780226081175

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226081199.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 19 October 2021

Before Accident Proneness

Before Accident Proneness

(p.13) 1. Before Accident Proneness
Accident Prone
University of Chicago Press

This chapter introduces the development of awareness of safety. Accident proneness had a particular background in the young science of psychology, and in the realm of general knowledge and belief. The core beliefs were stated in terms of familiar character flaws, which could be temporary or persistent: carelessness and clumsiness. It turned out that accident proneness was, like clumsiness, a natural characteristic of a person. The evidence suggests that around World War I, a functional gap appeared in Western culture that could be filled with the additive attribute of accident prone. The phenomenon and some idea of a category of a person who had repeated accidents were present in developed societies. The German origins of the term Unfallneigung, inclination to accident, are notable in confirming this impression and show how European thinkers were prepared for the idea of accident proneness when it appeared.

Keywords:   safety, accident proneness, psychology, carelessness, clumsiness, Western culture, World War I

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