In the last few years research on human cognitive process has revealed the the human mind uses two different systems to “make sense” of the world. This two system approach was the subject of the 2002 book “Thinking Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman - a NYT review is here.
There is an article about the two systems in Scientific American here.
The major distinction responsible for these internal disagreements is the one between automatic and controlled processes. System 1 is generally automatic, affective and heuristic-based, which means that it relies on mental “shortcuts.” It quickly proposes intuitive answers to problems as they arise. System 2, which corresponds closely with controlled processes, is slow, effortful, conscious, rule-based and also can be employed to monitor the quality of the answer provided by System 1. If it’s convinced that our intuition is wrong, then it’s capable of correcting or overriding the automatic judgments.
A Safety Management System is in part an attempt to force mariners out of system 1 thinking into system 2 methods. For example enclosed space entry rather then go into a tank you “feel” is safe you have to follow the testing steps in a methodical way, filling out the blanks in the form.