Human Error: The Impact of Job Insecurity on Attention-Related Cognitive Errors and Error Detection

Lara Christina ROLL*, Oi Ling SIU, Yau Wai Simon LI, Hans DE WITTE

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
38 Downloads (Pure)


(1) Background: Work-related stress is a major contributor to human error. One significant workplace stressor is job insecurity, which has been linked to an increased likelihood of experiencing burnout. This, in turn, might affect human error, specifically attention-related cognitive errors (ARCES) and the ability to detect errors. ARCES can be costly for organizations and pose a safety risk. Equally detrimental effects can be caused by failure to detect errors before they can cause harm.
(2) Methods: We gathered self-report and behavioral data from 148 employees working in educational, financial and medical sectors in China. We designed and piloted an error detection task in which employees had to compare fictitious customer orders to deliveries of an online shop. We tested for indirect effects using the PROCESS macro with bootstrapping
(3) Results: Our findings confirmed indirect effects of job insecurity on both ARCES and the ability to detect errors via burnout.
(4) Conclusions: The present research shows that job insecurity influences making and detecting errors through its relationship with burnout. These findings suggest that job insecurity could increase the likelihood for human error with potential implications for employees’ safety and the safety of others.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2427
Number of pages61
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jul 2019


  • quantitative job insecurity
  • qualitative job insecurity
  • error detection
  • behavioral data
  • cognitive errors
  • burnout


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