Chapter 10 Homework: Human Factors Design of Automobiles


Chapter 10 HW is associated with Objective 2: Explain how the principles of human factors can be used to enhance job performance (p.

For this HW assignment you can observe your car’s dashboard to find instances of the 4 Human-factors-design-principles (summarized

below and described in more detail on page 261 in textbook). These design principles are recommended by I/O psychologists as the

most effective way to design “displays” and “controllers” for a person to operator a tool or machine. Your report should include

examples of these design principles in terms of displays and controllers in your car that represent instances of these design

principles in use.
Keep in mind that the field of “Human-Factors” is an area of psychology that is concerned with the interface between people and

tools (and now equipment and technology such as computers). The design principles are for improving the “display” in terms of

providing feedback to the person about what the machine or computer is doing. Also for how to better design “controllers” that allow

the person to operate and manipulate what the machine is doing. Some of these principles have to do with making it easier for the

person to see the displays in the car. The idea is there is always some better way to display information about what the machine is

doing to the person operating it and in the process, improve job-performance and satisfaction. Other principles focus on how to

improve the controllers that manipulate the machine or computer. Overall, job performance and job satisfaction can be enhanced by

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properly designed tools and equipment.

The four Human-factors design principles are:

1. Controls and displays should be located in a logical place with controls for the same function grouped together. For example, a

well-designed car will place the lighting controls together, the windshield wiper and washer controls together, etc.

2. Vital controls that can produce important consequences should be recognized by touch. For instance, the landing gear controller

on an airplane should be recognizable by touch.

3. Controls and displays should provide feedback so that the person knows that the function has been accomplished. For instance,

with an on/off switch, one might hear a click and feel a tactile sensation indicating the switch has been activated or deactivated.

4. The direction in which controls are moved should logically match the directions in which the machine will move. For instance, an

increase in some factor should involve moving a switch up or to the right as opposed to counterclockwise or down.

Here are the specific HW instructions: Inspect an automobile for examples of the incorporation of human factors into its design.

Draw a picture of the dashboard (or just download a picture from the web of a similar dashboard and use that) and make a list of

features involving displays (e.g. instrument panel) and controllers illustrated in your picture. How many examples of the human

factors design principles listed above can you find? Give examples of what you found.

Make sure you include a table or figure in your report. For this assignment, it makes the most sense to include a figure of the

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dashboard of a car. If you want you can draw it and scan it in to the report, but it’s probably best to download a picture from the

web that is similar to your dashboard and use that as your figure. However, if you want you can create a table that lists the four

design features in one column and in a second column you could have an example from your car.


Key Terms: (Include at least 5 of these key terms in your written report!):
• Human factors
• Ergonomics
• Engineering psychology
• Mental model
• Computer-supported cooperative work (CSCW)
• Job performance
• Job satisfaction