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February 09, 1962 - Image 17

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1962-02-09

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Scientists Probe Man, Machine Role

stitute of Science and Techology.
During World War II, when The research head is Prof. Arthur
nearly every day saw the addition Melton of the psychology depart-
of some new and more complicated ment.
gadget to the equipment used for Two Major Programs
the business of war, a new prob- The laboratory is at the present
lem also began to emerge: the time involved in two major pro-
more complicated machines be- I
came, the more efficient they grams, Prof. Edwards said. The
should have been. first is part of Project Michigan,
All too often, they weren't; it a exensiesuy of echnques-
fn $ rirn r~i7nfor v


took men to operate the machines,
and men were still just as "simple
as ever." The weapons engineer's
call for help was answered by the
experimental psychologist, and a
new science arose: the science of
engineering psychology, P r o f.
Ward Edwards, research psychol-
ogist at the Engineering Psychol-
ogy Laboratory said recently.
Psychology Specialty'
Engineering psychology, a spe-
ciality within experimental psy-
chology, is concerned with the
man-machine system: how the two
parts may be mated-the machine
by design and the man by train-
ing-so that the capabilities of
both can be efficiently explointed.
The work of the engineering
psychologist is thus useful to in-
dustry as well as to the armed
The scope of this new specialty
was for a time limited largely to
"knobs and dials problems"-the
problems in making instruments
such as airplane altimeters easier
to read, of placing and shaping
controls so they could be recog-
nized and used without having
actually to look 'at them.
Pure Experiment
But the work now being con-
ducted at the Engineering Psy-
chology Laboratory is of a more
fundamental nature and is often
pure experimental psychology,
Prof. Edwards said.
In order to exploit the capabili-
ties 'of men, scientists must first
know what those capabilities are.
Consequently much of present-day
work in engineering psychology
is basic research in perception,
memory, decision - making and
The Engineering, Psychology
Laboratory was established in 1958
as an independent group within
the Willow Run Laboratories,
which later merged with the In-

joil ~acquiringl, organizing an ~IU ax
ploiting information on the battle
The project is sponsored by an
army contract, the largest IST
has, and concerns many depart-
ments within the Institute.
The Engineering Psychology
Laboratory is responsible for the,
part of the program concerning
image interpretation. The images
in question here are those pro-
duced by radar, infrared and aerial
photography, and similar informa-
tion-gathering devices.
Extract Information
The aim of the team working
on the problem is to find how
much information can be extract-
ed from these images, and how

the information can be displayed
so as to be most easily readable.
Different phases of this problem
which are being studied include
the effects of confusion elements
in the image, of information given
the viewer about the image, and
of distortion of the image by
transmitting and display instru-
ments, such as a radar screen.
The second large-scale program
the Laboratory is engaged in now
is sponsored partly by Project
Michigan and partly by several Air
Force agencies. It concerns the
way men make risky decisions
and how they acquire and organize
the information for these deci-
sions, Prof. Edwards said.
He is primarily responsible for
the work on this problem, and
here again the research is mostly
at an abstract level.
Most of the experiments in the
program are based not on actual
military or industrial decisions but
on .abstract tasks requiring a
choice between different risks,
with different probabilities and

1 ' ;"

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