James T. Reason, Ph.D.

Professor of Psychology
University of Manchester


James T. Reason, Ph.D., graduated with First Class Honors from the University of Manchester in 1962 with a B.Sc. in Psychology. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Leicester in 1967.

From 1962-1964, he was a research psychologist at the Royal Air Force (RAF) Institute of Aviation Medicine, Farnborough, and later at the U.S. Naval Aerospace Medical Institute, Pensacola, Florida. From 1964-1976, he was assistant lecturer, lecturer, and reader in the Department of Psychology, University of Leicester.

Since 1977, he has been Professor of Psychology at the University of Manchester. In 1995, he received the Distinguished Foreign Colleague Award from the U.S.A. Human Factors and Ergonomics Society. He is a Fellow of the British Psychological Society and a Chartered Psychologist. In 1998-99, he was elected Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society and of the British Academy. In 2001 he was received the U.S.A. Flight Safety Foundation/Airbus Industrie Human Factors in Aviation Safety Award.

Dr. Reason has published multiple important books and papers on human error and organizational processes. Among these are Human Error (1990) and Managing the Risks of Organizational Accidents (1997).

Research Focus

For the past 25 years, his principal research area has been human error and the way people and organizational processes contribute to the breakdown of complex, well-defended technologies such as commercial aviation, nuclear power generation, process plants, railways, marine operations, financial services, and healthcare institutions. His error classification and models of system breakdown are widely used in these domains, particularly by accident investigators.

In recent years, he and his co-workers have focused upon the development of error management techniques. This work has been carried out in collaboration with a variety of organizations including Shell, British Railways, British Airways, Singapore Airlines, and the Bureau of Air Safety Investigation (Canberra).

A recent project, funded by the British Heart Foundation and carried out in collaboration with surgeons at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children, investigated the ways in which human and organizational factors affect the outcome of neonatal cardiothoracic surgery. Current work focuses on how people maintain the safety of complex systems by timely adjustments to unexpected and potentially threatening events.

University of Manchester

Currently, Dr. Reason is a professor of psychology at The University of Manchester. He teaches subjects such as Fundamentals of Perception, Cognitive Psychology, and Human & Organizational Factors in Complex Systems. His main contributions to the field of healthcare are found in his extensive research of the psychology of human error.