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Engineering psychology.docx

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Western University
Psychology 2990A/B
Doug Hazlewood

Engineering psychology Fitting the machine to the user And Fitting the user to the machine A. Other common names for the field: Human factors, Human factor engineering Human engineering Ergonomics -engineering psychology B. Definition p. 226: the science of a. designing machines for human use and b. determining appropriate behaviors for the efficient operation of machines. - machines includes – thump tacks to nuclear missiles = Two goals that led to development of the field - fitting the machine to the user, - fitting the user to the machine Part 1: Historical development a. Design the machine and ignore the user. - not effective approach seen during WW2. - Design of army tanks (p.235) – there was no problem with the tanks, no consideration was given to the ppl using the tanks. - Eg: too much noise, couldn’t talk to eachother, - Poor visibility, could not see near the tank and would fall into ditches. - Seating position caused back and neck injuries, - More damage to the operators than the enemy! Altitude display in airplanes: too complex (took 7 sec to read; misread 12% of the time). - 700 feet (or 10,700 feet)? B. Design the machine and then “fit” user to the machine. Two approaches: 1. Select people who fit the machine eg: - if strength required, select strong users - if intelligence required; select intelligent users ( this is true in I-O psychology; finding the right person for the job) Problem: not always possible to find people who “fit” the machine eg: - women in WW2 weapons factories were not very productive. Why? - Not smart enough? No! - But, machines were designed for men – women didn’t “fit” the machines (but men were not allowed to use them). 2. Train people to use the machine. Eg., - give pilots more training with altitude displays; - “time and motion” studies: train workers to move more efficiently when using machines (eliminate unnecessary movement) Problems: - training was time consuming and expensive to provide - machines were becoming so complex that no amount of the training would be effective (they exceeded human capabilities to operate them). - It was assumed that the machines was a constant, the user can be changed, so the user would have to fit the machine. - However the machine is NOT a constant according to engineering psychologists. C. Design the machine so it “fits” the user 1. Two early examples that it can be done: - Taylor (1898): changing the design of shovels can increase productivity (p. 229). - The Gillbreths (p.229-230): can increase “movement efficiency” by redesigning machines and the workplace. Eg: - Use scaffolds when laying bricks; - minimize the amount the reaching the brick makers would have to do. - Put shelves in fridge doors; - Put a foot pedal no trash cans; - Have nurses provide instrument to surgeons during operation. 2. Additional examples that designing machines to fit the user must be done (1980s) a. Technological disasters: - Three Mile island (1979): a nuclear power plant in US comes very close to a meltdown. - Bhopal, India (1984): chemical spill kill 400, injured 200,000 - Chernobyl (1986): explosion at nuclear power plant killed 300; contaminates millions of acres. - What did they have in common? Human factors were ignored when the technology was designed. Complexity is made worse by the poor layout of controls: - Operator has to reach for controls with support from his hand. - His knees are very close to the buttons - Another picture: - Operator needs a special ladder to see some of the controls. What if ladder is in wrong place at critical moment? B. An increase in product liability and personal injury lawsuits: - Poorly designed products can cause injuries - So products must be designed to be safe (don’t change the user; change the product!) c. The development of personal computers: - originally designed to be “fuctional”, But not “user-friendly” - Eg: command-line interfere required learning a new language. Eg: to underline: [Ctl U] word [Ctl u] – “RTFM”. - difficult to learn; easy to make mistakes. The Apple Macintosh’s approach: - Rely on what users are already familiar with – an office environment (desktops, files, folders, trash cans). - Design the computer to match this familiar environment. - Today nearly all-popular software uses this easy “windows” environment (with a graphical user interface). Part 2: The “systems” conc
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