Engineering Psychophysiology: Issues and Applications

By Richard W. Backs; Wolfram Boucsein | Go to book overview

Chapter 1
Engineering Psychophysiology as a Discipline: Historical and Theoretical Aspects

Wolfram Boucsein University of Wuppertal, Germany Richard W. Backs Central Michigan University


A BRIEF HISTORY OF ENGINEERING PSYCHOPHYSIOLOGY

Engineering psychophysiology is a term we have chosen to describe research that applies psychophysiological methods to the traditional problems addressed within the discipline of engineering psychology. The name is somewhat arbitrary and reflects our preferences to identify with the scientific study of human interactions with technology and to use the term engineering psychology to describe this endeavor. Unfortunately, a multiplicity of terms other than engineering psychology have also been used for this purpose, which has been problematic for the field ever since it was identified as a separate discipline.

Münsterberg ( 1913, 1914a, 1914b) may have been the first to promote the application of psychological science to improve everyday life. Münsterberg advocated the use of basic laboratory data to solve applied problems and the use of those problems to direct basic laboratory research. Collectively, he referred to the application of experimental psychology to address problems in the fields of education, medicine, law, business, and industry as psychotechnics. Of most relevance to the present chapter is Miinsterberg's work in what he called "economic psychology," which anticipated modern industrial/organizational and engineering psychology.

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