Human Factors Psychology, also known as Engineering Psychology, is the study of human interaction with technological systems, ranging from simple hand tools to complex technology such as nuclear power plants, transportation systems, and consumer technology such as smartphones. This discipline applies basic research to existing technological problems.
The goal of Human Factors Psychology is the design of technological systems that are safe, productive, comfortable, and error-free. This is achieved by studying the capabilities and limitations of humans and by applying this knowledge in the design process.
The Human Factors program at Clemson University is accredited by the Human Factors and Ergonomic Society (HFES). Students in our program will benefit from research training in Clemson’s Psychology laboratories funded by state, federal and industry sources, including the Department of Defense, the National Institutes of Health, Google, and Microsoft.
The Department of Psychology at Clemson University has recently developed a comprehensive set of laboratories to study of human performance in multiple work environments. A full-sized, high-fidelity driving simulator enables study of driver decision-making, distraction, and situational awareness in a programmable virtual roadway “world”. A shipboard motion simulator coupled with a flight simulator permits study of performance in naval aviators before, during and after shipboard mission training.
See a list of current Human Factors research being carried out in the Department.
An occupational stress simulation laboratory enables investigation of worker performance and physiological response in stressful work environments. Unmanned aircraft simulators allow study of remote navigation in Predator-type drone aircraft. A sustained operations research facility permits the study of the effects of stress, workload, and fatigue on job-related performance.
In addition to using our extensive set of laboratories, our students will also conduct research in the real world, including studies of visibility problems on roadways at night, the ability of operators to control robotic systems, and workplace ergonomics.
Students will also have access to a usability laboratory that allows detailed examination of software ease-of-use, and a sleep laboratory to study the effects of sleep deprivation and fatigue on performance and physiology. Students will work closely with Clemson psychology faculty to develop skills in research design for assessment of human operation of new technological systems.
The emerging field of Human Factors Psychology is one example of the critical importance of human capabilities and limitations when interfacing with technology. The safety, effectiveness, and ease of operation of new technologies are dependent on a highly trained workforce and informed system design. As a result, there is an increasing workforce demand for human factors professionals in industry, government, and higher education. Clemson’s Human Factors Psychology PhD and MS students will be at the forefront of designing and assessing our new technological systems in the 21st Century.