September 21, 2023

By Psychology PhD pupil, Louise Davidson

The Science of Teamwork

Teamwork is one thing that the majority of us interact in day-after-day – for instance, inside a piece crew or a sports activities crew. We all know the members of our groups… their names, their strengths, their weaknesses, and their position throughout the crew. We think about them to be a part of ‘us’.

There may be an abundance of proof to point out that once we really feel like we belong to a crew, we usually work properly with its members. This sense of ‘us-ness’ offers a robust foundation for coordination and cooperation that’s important for teamwork via offering crew members with shared objectives and norms, in addition to expectations of help from one another.

Nevertheless, alongside the groups that we belong to, there are additionally usually others that we don’t. Quite than being a part of ‘us’, they’re seen as ‘them’.

However what occurs once we discover ourselves having to work with ‘them’? Is it doable to beat this ‘us-them’ divide? And, in that case, how?

Working collectively to avoid wasting lives

That is precisely the problem confronted by emergency companies within the UK once they deal with main incidents. In distinction to different emergencies, like a small hearth or minor housebreaking, main incidents exceed the capabilities of any single emergency service to deal with by itself.

Contemplate, for instance, the Manchester Enviornment Assault in 2017, the place a bomb went off on the finish of a music live performance, killing 22 individuals. Right here, important details about the character of the incident wasn’t shared between the emergency companies, ensuing within the Hearth Service being refrained from the scene for a substantial size of time.

In incidents like Manchester Enviornment, the Police, Hearth, and Ambulance Companies have to work collectively to avoid wasting lives and scale back hurt. However how can they do that, when in most conditions the members of every of those totally different companies see the opposite two companies as ‘them’, quite than as ‘us’?

This can be a important query, and one which I’ve been looking for to reply in my doctoral analysis, and one which I attempted to elucidate in the course of the Soapbox Science Occasion in Might.

photo of Louise Davidson in a white coat presenting to a group of people  people on Brighton seafront
Presenting to the general public on Brighton seafront on the Soapbox Science occasion earlier this 12 months.

Soapbox Science, 2022

After participating within the digital Soapbox Science occasion in 2021, I used to be so excited to have the chance to participate within the in-person occasion this 12 months. On a fantastically sunny day in Might, I turned up on Brighton seafront, wood sticks and playballs in tow. Having by no means completed an occasion like this earlier than, I used to be barely apprehensive as to what to anticipate. Nevertheless, as quickly as I stood on the soapbox and commenced speaking to members of the general public and seeing their engagement, I felt immediately comfortable.

Children had been drawn to the sport I had created which concerned three individuals representing Blue, Pink, or Inexperienced Group (Police, Hearth, and Ambulance, respectively). First, they needed to work on their very own get their color balls out of the field and into their bucket utilizing a stick. Then, they had been capable of work collectively. We counted the balls within the buckets to find out whether or not working as a crew was more practical than working alone.

Curiously, in some circumstances, individuals didn’t carry out higher once they labored as a crew. However I explored why this was – in these circumstances, they didn’t talk, they didn’t strategize, they usually continued working as people (regardless of being allowed to work collectively).

I used to be in a position to make use of this as a place to begin for speaking about teamwork throughout the emergency companies, as mentioned above.  

The factor I loved most about soapbox science is sharing my ardour for my analysis with members of the general public – seeing each kids and adults getting concerned and excited and hopefully sparking some ardour in them too, in addition to exhibiting younger ladies that they’ll have a profession in science. I wish to thank the organisers of this occasion for giving me the chance to be there.

About me

My identify is Louise and I’ve simply gone into the third 12 months of my PhD within the College of Psychology on the College of Sussex. Alongside my research, I additionally work as a analysis assistant within the Behavioural Science and Insights Unit on the UK Well being Safety Company.

My ardour for emergency response stemmed from my Masters diploma in Investigative and Forensic Psychology on the College of Liverpool. Right here I realized concerning the persistent challenges that emergency responders face throughout main incident response, and the following impression this then has on their capability to reply and assist these in want. Similtaneously conducting my Masters, the Manchester Enviornment Assault came about, and I knew from that second that I needed to pursue a profession the place I might assist in these conditions.

While we received’t be capable of forestall all main incidents from occurring, this analysis helps us perceive why challenges with multi-agency response happen, and importantly what might be completed to forestall them re-occurring sooner or later. This understanding is so vital in an effort to facilitate a more practical emergency response to main incidents sooner or later and, in the end, save lives.

Demonstrating the challenges confronted by the emergency companies utilizing colored sticks and playballs.

Discover out extra about Louise’s analysis from her publication, preprint, and practitioner reports. It’s also possible to observe Louise on Twitter @loudavidson07.