Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Matthew R. Hallowell

Second Advisor

Leaf Van Boven

Third Advisor

Keith Molenaar

Fourth Advisor

Paul Goodrum

Fifth Advisor

Joshua Correll


Safety training despite being the key measure to keeping workers safe within any occupational environment has not kept pace with the significant advancement in the fields of behavioral psychology and education. As a result, researchers have found that the pre-dated safety training techniques on construction sites fail in communicating information in a way that promotes long-term retention of knowledge among adult learners and they also end up generating a negative attitude towards safety among workers. Understanding the psychological antecedents to risk-taking behavior and utilizing prominent adult learning theories to revolutionize safety training could allow academics and practitioners to improve workers’ hazard recognition performance and risk assessment skills while promoting risk-averse behavior.

This dissertation therefore aims to (1) test and validate the role of integral and incidental affective arousal in influencing key safety outcomes (hazard recognition performance, valuation of danger, and safety decisions); (2) use the findings to design a safety training program that generates targeted affective arousal but is also rooted in self-directed learning model to facilitate learning; (3) deliver the simulation-based multimedia training module as an intervention to construction workers in a quasi-field experiment to measure changes in affect and situational interest; and (4) apply multivariate statistics to validate if the training environment generated the desired emotional engagement and learning outcomes among workers.

Analysis of the proposed conceptual model showed that the integral negative affective arousal increased perception of risk and promoted risk-averse decision-making in construction safety training context. The quasi-field experiment on 489 construction workers showed that the proposed safety training module generated context-driven negative emotions and also improved situational interest levels regarding safety training which is a primary precursor to learning. Moreover, these results were consistent across all relevant demographical groups common to construction sites in the United States. This work is the first effort that ascertains the efficacy of various adult learning mechanisms incorporated in the proposed training module and also validates relationship between affect, risk perception, and decision-making in an occupational training environment. Future research should seek to validate the application of this format of safety training for safety training in other domains and study the long-term effects of such training on skills and retention of knowledge of the workforce.