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What is Human Factors Psychology?

What is Human Factors Psychology? 2018-05-09T21:46:54+00:00

Also called ergonomic psychology, there are several manners in which human factors psychology is used to improve the safety and ease of use of new technologies. It’s an ideal blend of technology and psychology for individuals interested in studying multiple disciplines. The article below delves into the different applications for this specialty and provides more details about the field.

Human Operators

In the modern milieu, technology develops and evolves at a rapid pace. Most individuals are not experts when it comes to setting up, using, or maintaining the many aspects or devices this rapid evolution entails, which can often lead to uneasiness or avoidance. However, the lives of many are dependent upon the application of technology, and manufacturers are driven to discover ways in which to make their software or hardware more approachable.

New services, products, and these rapidly advancing technologies appear everywhere in society, and human factors psychology is the key to their success. If a device is difficult to use, it won’t sell. If a service fails to meet the needs or expectations of potential customers, they will take their business elsewhere. When a software application produces numerous errors due to employee misunderstanding or difficulty in use, it’s often swapped out for a different platform or app.

These facts are reflective of the consumer-driven commodity economy in a capitalist system. There are other options for individuals or companies, so it’s in the interest of producers and merchants to meet the needs of those consumers. This branch of psychology applies the understanding of human behaviors to the design of products, services, and new portals of technology to satisfy this subtle aspect of supply. It examines not just what a product or service does, but how it does it and how beneficial consumer experience during operation reflects the success of the merchant or producer.

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Safety and Ease

While it would be sufficient to note the enormous role these psychologists play in shaping how individuals interface with new technologies and products, there’s more to the story, according to the American Psychological Association. Comfort with new concepts is just one step in the process. Safety takes first place for many.

Ergonomic psychologists help to prevent costly redesigns and potentially hazardous accidents due to operator error. They work in a variety of fields. With their assistance, companies design interfaces through which individuals operate machinery, software used in medical contexts, in which ease of use is often vital, and products used by age groups across the human lifespan. Psychological science helps to save lives or prevent injuries by making products and programs more natural for human beings to understand and use. The field first made a difference during World War II, when aviation schools needed to train soldiers how to apply, recognize, and repair systems in high-stress situations, such as airborne battle, when swiftness and accuracy meant survival.

Since that era, it’s been expanded into many other areas. As an article in Psychology Today notes, human factors psychology professionals study how human beings interact with other elements of a system, identifying ways to make technology more relatable, hierarchies more effective, and designs more approachable and appealing to the human element.

While it may often be relegated to an appendage of Research and Development, modern societies wouldn’t function as smoothly as they do without this field. These professionals apply their understanding of human cognition, social structures, and even how popular opinions shape preferences to crafting better products and systems. Human factors psychology builds bridges between consumers and the engineers who design or build the products individuals will buy or use.