chapter  2
31 Pages

Psychology and Engineering Alphonse Chapanis

Psychology and engineering owe much more to each other than is generally recognized for the two disciplines are linked in many ways: by the men who have moved from engineering to psychology. by the engineering technology that makes possible most psychological research, by the problems that each field presents to the other. and by tbe ideas from one that enrich the other. This essay begins with a characterization of tbe engineering profession and follows with a disclIssion of some contributions of engineering to psychology. The next section reverses orientation to look at some contributions from psychology to engineering. In the final section, I speculate about future relations between psychology and engineering,


Like psychology, engineering has a short history but a long past.: Canals. bridges. roads. tunnels, aqueducts, fortifications. ships. and monuments dating back thousands of years bear mute and. in many cases. aweinspiring testimony to the engineering skills of our ancient forefathers, For the most part these works .vere constructed under the supervision of

craftsmen and architects who had available only simple machines such as the wheel and the lever. What these builders lacked in machinery they compensated with manpower and time. The architect-builders of ancient times were able to command immense pools of raw labor. Even so, many projects took so long that they were never completed during the lifetimes of their original designers.