History and scope of engineering psychology

Scope of Engineering Psychology

Engineering Psychology is also called as Ergonomics (Uk and Europe), Human factor Psychology or Human factor engineering (in USA) or psychotechnology or applied experimental psychology,

The discipline study how people interact with machines and technology.

They use psychological science to guide the design of products, systems and devices we use daily.

They often focus on performance and safety.

Human factors and engineering psychologists strive to make Man & Machine interactions easier, more comfortable, less frustrating and, safer.

Engineering psychology is a branch of applied psychology. Engineering psychology specifically concerned with the innovation and application of information about human behavior to  the machines, tools, and jobs so that their design may best match the capabilities and boundaries of their human users.

Engineering psychology is a part of industrial psychology. It includes additional topics as personnel procurement, selection, training, classification, and promotion; labor relations; morale and human relations; organizational management; and consumer behavior.

The field of human factors engineering includes portions of  human sciences as anatomy, anthropometry, applied physiology, environmental medicine, and toxicology.

These distinctions between engineering psychology, industrial psychology, and human factors engineering are more academic than real. In his practical work, the engineering psychologist needs to know enough about all of these disciplines so that he can make use of them in arriving at sensible and informed design decisions.

History of Engineering Psychology

At end of the nineteenth century that the first systematic investigations were conducted on man’s capacity to work as it is influenced by his job and his tools.

Frederick W. Taylor (1898) made empirical studies of the best design of shovels and of the optimum weight of material per shovelful for handling different products, such as sand, slag, rice coal, and iron ore. He focused primarily in rates of doing work and in the effects of incentives and worker motivation on rates of working.

Frank B. Gilbreth to set a firm foundation for this field with his classic study of bricklaying (1909). Gilbreth invented a scaffolding which could be quickly adjusted so that the bricklayer could work at the most convenient level at all times. Gilbreth was able to increase the number of bricks laid from 120 to 350 per man per hour.

This innovative work of Taylor and Gilbreth was the beginning of that branch of industrial engineering now known as time and motion study.

the primary emphasis in time and motion engineering has been on man as a worker,  as a source of mechanical power.

During the two world wars there appeared a new class of machines —machines that made demands upon the operator not in terms of his muscular power but rather in terms of his sensory, perceptual, judgmental, and decision-making abilities.

For illustration, The job of a SONAR Operator, requires virtually no muscular energy, but it makes severe demands on his sensory capacity, his attentiveness, and his decision-making ability.

During World War I  a group of psychologists under Robert M. Yerkes was organized as the Psychology Committee of the National Research Council.  Largely the psychologists in World War I were concerned about the selection, classification, and training of recruits, and with morale, military discipline, recreation, and problems of emotional stability in soldiers and sailors.

During World War II   Psychologist were more concern about Radar, sonar, high altitude and high speed aircraft, naval combat information centers, and air traffic control centers placed demands upon their human operators that were often far beyond the capabilities of human senses, brains, and muscles.

Operators sometimes had to look for targets which were all but invisible, recognize speech against backgrounds of deafening noise, track targets simultaneously in the three dimensions of space with both hands, and absorb large amounts of information to reach life-and-death decisions within seconds.

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