Studies in Personnel and Industrial Psychology

By Edwin A. Fleishman | Go to book overview

the laboratory. A study of any discrepancies should be helpful in improving laboratory testing methods.


66. The Tactual Identification of Shapes for Coding Switch Handles*

Bert F. GreenandLois K. Anderson

CONTROL PANELS for complex electronic equipment often contain many switches. In many applications the operator could work more efficiently if he could select the appropriate switch without looking at it. Coding the switches by spacing them in groups or by using switch handles of different shapes should help the operator to locate a particular switch without visual cues. Weitz1 has shown that accuracy of performance is significantly affected by the shape of aircraft-type control knobs when visual cues are restricted. We might expect similar effects in the case of electronic control panels.

The major purpose of the experiments reported here was to select a set of differently shaped switch handles that could be identified easily. Jenkins2 has reported a very similar investigation of shapes for aircraft- type controls. He selected sets of 8 and knobs from sets of 25 and 22 knobs. The selected knobs were almost never confused in his studies. We adapted some of his shapes for the lever-switch handles, although most of the handles we studied are our own designs. In addition to selecting a set of easily discriminable shapes, we investigated the rela-

____________________
and substantial advantages must be demonstrated to justify a change in numbering for millions of our customers. If such advantages seem indicated when Wichita Falls studies are complete, other more stringent trials of the all-numeral type of numbering plan would have to be undertaken in larger cities before any firm conclusions could be drawn. Many factors outside the scope of this article are involved in numbering plans and dialing procedures.
*
From Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol. 39, No. 4, 1955, pp. 219-26.

This research was supported jointly by the Army, Navy, and Air Force under contract with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

1
J. Weitz, "The Coding of Aircraft Control Knobs," in P. M. Fitts (ed.), Psychology of Equipment Design, AAF Aviation Psychology Program Research Representatives, Report No. 19 (Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1947), pp. 187-98.
2
W. O. Jenkins, "The Tactual Discrimination of Shapes for Coding Aircraft- Type Controls," in P. M. Fitts (ed.), Psychology of Equipment Design, AAF Aviation Psychology Program Research Representatives, Report No. 19 (Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1947), pp. 199-205.

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