Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Teaching organisation

Lectures, workshops, excursions, guest presenters, flexible delivery - 24 hours face-to-face or equivalent

Unit rationale, description and aim

This unit provides an introduction to the social psychology of risk, focusing firstly on risk perception and understanding as an individual, from a personal perspective. Introduced in this unit and explored in more depth in later units, the concepts are then expanded into an understanding of how they apply to others and finally, organisational understanding of the psychology of risk and social complexity in a networked age. If you are to be effective, and to thrive, in a volatile and uncertain environment (personal or professional) you will need a humanistic understanding, which is especially important when applied to the notion of risk. The need to take risks is critical to success but the goal of effective psychology of risk application is to find the balance between risk aversion and risk seeking to create Dynamic Risk Equilibrium (DRE). As such, this unit focuses on the importance of the non-conscious in judgment and decision-making and its importance in the understanding of risk. An introduction to the social psychology of risk and how judgment and decision-making are affected by social arrangements is also provided in this unit.

These findings have been evolving into the field of behavioural economics. This unit applies the learnings from these relatively new disciplines to develop an understanding of what it means to thrive in a volatile and uncertain environment that characterises many contemporary workplaces as they continue to transition from industrial age thinking to a social, networked approach.

The aim of the unit is to provide students with an introduction to the fundamentals of the psychology of risk including research foundations, trends and the scope of the discipline in order to develop a foundation for the application of the psychology of risk in personal and professional contexts.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Identify and analyse key aspects, knowledge and underpinning principles of the psychology of risk (GA4, GA5, GA6, GA9)  

LO2 - Evaluate the role of the nonconscious in decision making and understanding of risk as it relates to uncertainty on a personal level (GA1, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9) 

LO3 - Critique the importance of critical reflective practice to the psychology of risk (GA3, GA4, GA8) 

LO4 - Apply psychological principles and analysis of risk effects the relationship between self and others in an organisational context (GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8) 

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity 

GA2 - recognise their responsibility to the common good, the environment and society 

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA6 - solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account

GA7 - work both autonomously and collaboratively 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 


  • Psychology of risk as a discipline,  
  • Trends, research foundations and methods.  
  • Personal safety, personal risk decision making and the impact of tactical and strategic risk attributes,  
  • Risk Management Tools such as ISO 3100:2018  
  • Risk Intelligence. 
  • Core concepts of psychology as related to risk,  
  • The foundations of behavioural influence and cultural change,  
  • Environment, semiotics, heuristics and cognitive biases impact on risk and decision making.  
  • Personal survival based responses (Hard Risks) and  
  • Skills designed to help us manage threat and adversity, and expands this into the  
  • Diversity of complex challenges (Soft Risks)  
  • The intersection between risk and innovation  
  • Leadership and risk  
  • Sense making and mindfulness,  
  • Non-rational and rational dichotomies, and risk  
  • The psychology of goals and adaptive achievement approaches  
  • Critical, strategic and binary thinking about risk. 
  • Influence, culture, change and high reliability. 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

The first unit in the program, SCRK500 The Social Psychology of Risk provides an introduction to the social psychology of risk including trends, research foundations and the scope of the discipline. This unit is the foundational unit for the Graduate Certificate in the Psychology of Risk and is designed to create an underpinning knowledge base and understanding of the application of the psychology of risk. It serves to develop the fundamentals related to the Psychology of risk which will be enhanced and developed in Units SCRK501, SCRK503 and SCRK503. It creates the framework for the entire program and whilst focusing on the ‘individual aspect’, develops a core understanding of three dimensions: understanding yourself, understanding others; and relating this knowledge at organisational levels.   

In general, and by the nature of its topic, this course focuses on busy professionals. As such, the unit is offered in an intensive mode of delivery using an immersive learning approach to support students to attain essential knowledge associated with the nature and relationship of the social psychology of risk to human behaviour in cognitive, social, cultural and behavioural domains.  

The teaching strategy of this unit is designed to help students explore the essential knowledge, underpinning judgement and decision making around risk. It is delivered in an intensive face to face structure so that a ‘safe’ environment is created where students can build trust with each other and are able to critically reflect and share examples from both personal and professional perspectives. This is necessary to enhance the learning by understanding the real word application of the theoretical knowledge as well as to develop critical reflective practice.  

There is a steady progression in the complexity and application of key concepts in the later Units of this course. The focus on development from unconscious incompetence to conscious incompetence and then to conscious competence and finally unconscious competence is worked into the program as students’ progress through the course units.  

This is a 10-credit point unit and has been designed to ensure that the time needed to complete the required volume of learning to the requisite standard is approximately 150 hours in total across the semester. To achieve a passing standard in this unit, students will find it helpful to engage in the full range of learning activities and assessments utilised in this unit, as described in the learning and teaching strategy and the assessment strategy. The learning and teaching and assessment strategies include a range of approaches to support learning such as reading, reflection, discussion, webinars, podcasts, video, workshops, and assignments.  

Mode/Attendance Pattern

Lectures, excursion, guest presenter, and/or multimode delivery. 



Intensive delivery 3 days, 24 hours face-to-face. Supported by reading and self-study. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

In order to successfully complete this unit, postgraduate students need to complete and submit three graded assessment tasks 

The assessments will relate directly to the achievement of the outcomes and graduate attributes. Consistent with the developmental nature of the course the focus of the assessment in this unit is on the acquisition of content knowledge leading to an understanding of its application to practice. 

Due to the nature of the psychology of risk where strategic and tactical attributes and skills are required for application, assessments have been designed to assess both i.e. put students under short term pressure to demonstrates proficiency of the learning outcomes without time for significant reflection and analysis as well as more strategic assessments which allow for reflection and application of principles associated with effective demonstration of the principels at a more strategic level. 

The strategy for assessment focuses on the construct that this unit creates a foundation and platform for students in terms of underpinning knowledge, so that the units that follow can focus on building the application of the said knowledge. Assessment tasks are designed to assess relevant graduate attributes / generic skills, as well as subject specific knowledge and skills. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Fieldwork notes and reflective journal 

  • Describe key aspects, knowledge and underpinning principles of the psychology of risk  
  • Explain the role of the nonconscious in decision making and understanding of risk as it relates to uncertainty on a personal level 


LO1, LO2 

GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, , GA8, GA9 

Semitics, Memes and influence environmental assessment and presentation 

  Performed at the end of day 3 to ensure student are able to: 

  • Describe key aspects, knowledge and underpinning principles of the psychology of risk  
  • Explain the role of the nonconscious in decision making and understanding of risk as it relates to uncertainty on a personal level 
  • Explain the importance of critical reflective practice to the psychology of risk  


LO1, LO2, LO3 

GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, , GA8, GA9 

Composition of a 2500-word exploratory essay that demonstrates student’s ability to apply the learnings in context using real life examples. 

  • Describe key aspects, knowledge and underpinning principles of the psychology of risk  
  • Explain the importance of critical reflective practice to the psychology of risk  
  • Explain how the psychology of risk effects the relationship between self and others in an organisational context  


LO2, LO3, LO4 

GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, , GA8, GA9 

Representative texts and references

Ariely, D. (2012) The Honest Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone—Especially Ourselves. Harper Collins. New York 

Cialdini, R. B. (2016). Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade. New York: Simon & Schuster.  

Collins, C. Benson, N. Ginsberg, J. Grand, V. Lazyan, N. Weeks, M. (2012). The Psychology Book:[Big Ideas Simply Explained]. DK Publishers. New York. 

Medina, J. (2008), Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School.Seattle, WA: Pear Press. 

Sinek, S. (2009). Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action. Penguin Group. London 

Schneider, G. (2017). Can I See your Hands: A Guide to Situational Awareness, Personal Risk Management, Resilience and Security. Universal Publishers. Florida  

Schneider, G., Johnston, P. & Down, K. (2016). Dynamic Risk Equilibrium – The next wave. RiskManagement Today. Vol 26 No 10. LexisNexis: 180-184 

Schneider, G., Johnston, P. & Down, K. (2017). What is Risk Intelligence. Risk Management Today. Vol 27 No 3. LexisNexis: 43-47 

Standards Australia. (2018). AS/NZS ISO 31000:2018 Risk management— Principles and guidelines 

Weick, E. & Sutcliffe. (2015) Managing the Unexpected, Sustained Performance in a Complex. World (Third Edition). Wiley. New Jersey  

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