September 30, 2023

By Psychology PhD pupil, Louise Davidson

The Science of Teamwork

Teamwork is one thing that the majority of us have interaction in day-after-day – for instance, inside a piece staff or a sports activities staff. We all know the members of our groups… their names, their strengths, their weaknesses, and their function throughout the staff. We take into account them to be a part of ‘us’.

There’s an abundance of proof to indicate that after we really feel like we belong to a staff, we usually work effectively with its members. This sense of ‘us-ness’ supplies a robust foundation for coordination and cooperation that’s very important for teamwork by means of offering staff members with shared objectives and norms, in addition to expectations of assist from one another.

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

However what occurs after we discover ourselves having to work with ‘them’? Is it attainable to beat this ‘us-them’ divide? And, if that’s the case, how?

Working collectively to avoid wasting lives

That is precisely the problem confronted by emergency providers within the UK once they sort out 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, very important details about the character of the incident wasn’t shared between the emergency providers, ensuing within the Hearth Service being evaded the scene for a substantial size of time.

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

This can be a important query, and one which I’ve been in search of to reply in my doctoral analysis, and one which I attempted to clarify through the Soapbox Science Occasion in Could.

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 yr.

Soapbox Science, 2022

After collaborating 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 yr. On a fantastically sunny day in Could, I turned up on Brighton seafront, picket sticks and playballs in tow. Having by no means accomplished 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 relaxed.

Children have been drawn to the sport I had created which concerned three individuals representing Blue, Crimson, 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 have been capable of work collectively. We counted the balls within the buckets to find out whether or not working as a staff was more practical than working alone.

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

I used to be ready to make use of this as a place to begin for speaking about teamwork throughout the emergency providers, 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 youngsters and adults getting concerned and excited and hopefully sparking some ardour in them too, in addition to displaying younger ladies that they will have a profession in science. I want 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 yr of my PhD within the Faculty 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 next impression this then has on their capability to reply and assist these in want. Similtaneously conducting my Masters, the Manchester Enviornment Assault passed off, and I knew from that second that I needed to pursue a profession the place I may assist in these conditions.

While we gained’t be capable to forestall all main incidents from occurring, this analysis helps us perceive why challenges with multi-agency response happen, and importantly what will be accomplished to forestall them re-occurring sooner or later. This understanding is so necessary as a way to facilitate a more practical emergency response to main incidents sooner or later and, finally, save lives.

Demonstrating the challenges confronted by the emergency providers 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.