Preprint Article Version 2 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Accident Report Interpretation: The Power of Language

Version 1 : Received: 30 August 2018 / Approved: 30 August 2018 / Online: 30 August 2018 (14:37:58 CEST)
Version 2 : Received: 2 October 2018 / Approved: 3 October 2018 / Online: 3 October 2018 (13:12:44 CEST)

A peer-reviewed article of this Preprint also exists.

Heraghty, D.; Dekker, S.; Rae, A. Accident Report Interpretation. Safety 2018, 4, 46. Heraghty, D.; Dekker, S.; Rae, A. Accident Report Interpretation. Safety 2018, 4, 46.


The language we use to describe the past can have a strong influence on the audience’s interpretation of our story. In our experiment, we explore, using 3 different conditions, how the framing and language of an accident report can affect the audience’s proposed solutions to manage the problems found. We find that the approach used to create an accident report can have a powerful influence on the audience’s decision making. Whether we are describing an accident in a similar manner to a crime, using a systems approach or we are accepting of multiple stories which are not linear or coherent, the methods we use to capture and communicate the story have a profound impact on the actions decided upon by the reader.


accident, investigation, punishment, language, multiple stories, crime, framing, human error, systems thinking, actions


Social Sciences, Cognitive Science

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