Sheridan, Thomas B. Department of Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Rossmeissl, Paul G. Hay Systems, Washington, DC.
Howell, William C. Science Directorate, American Psychological Association, Washington, DC.
Last reviewed:June 2019
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The application of experimental findings in behavioral science and physiology to the design and operation of technical systems in which humans are users or operators. Human-factors engineering is a scientific discipline that attempts to integrate human factors (both psychological and physical in nature) and the design of devices and systems for human use. It also has been termed ergonomics, human factors, human engineering, engineering psychology, applied experimental psychology, and biotechnology. In general, human-factors engineering deals with the design of hardware and software, as well as device and systems training, documentation, manufacturing, and maintenance. Human-factors professionals are trained in some combination of experimental or cognitive psychology, physiology, and engineering (typically industrial, mechanical, electrical, or software engineering). Human-factors engineering seeks to ensure that the tools used by humans, and the environment in which they are used, are best matched to the operator's physical size, strength, and speed and to the capabilities of his or her senses, memory, cognitive skills, and psychomotor preferences (Fig. 1). These objectives are in contrast to forcing humans to conform or adapt to the physical environment. In addition, human-factors engineering is related to the field of human–machine systems engineering, but is more general, comprehensive, and empirical and not so wedded to formal mathematical models and physical analyses. See also: Engineering; Engineering design; Human-machine systems; Industrial engineering; Methods engineering; Production engineering; Systems engineering
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