Human factors and ergonomics
Human factors and ergonomics is the application of psychological and physiological principles to the design of products and systems. The goal of human factors is to reduce human error, increase productivity, enhance safety and comfort with a specific focus on the interaction between the human and the thing of interest, it is not changes or amendments to the work enviornment but encompases theory, methods and principles all applied in the field of ergonomics. The field is a combination of numerous disciplines, such as psychology, engineering, industrial design, anthropometry, interaction design, visual design, user experience, user interface design. In research, human factors employs the scientific method to study human behavior so that the resultant data may be applied to the four primary goals. In essence, it is the study of designing equipment and processes that fit the human body and its cognitive abilities; the two terms "human factors" and "ergonomics" are synonymous. The International Ergonomics Association defines ergonomics or human factors as follows: Ergonomics is the scientific discipline concerned with the understanding of interactions among humans and other elements of a system, the profession that applies theory, principles and methods to design to optimize human well-being and overall system performance.
Human factors is employed to fulfill the goals of occupational safety and productivity. It is relevant in the design of such things as safe furniture and easy-to-use interfaces to machines and equipment. Proper ergonomic design is necessary to prevent repetitive strain injuries and other musculoskeletal disorders, which can develop over time and can lead to long-term disability. Human factors and ergonomics is concerned with the "fit" between the user and environment or "fitting a person to a job", it accounts for the user's capabilities and limitations in seeking to ensure that tasks, functions and the environment suit that user. To assess the fit between a person and the used technology, human factors specialists or ergonomists consider the job being done and the demands on the user. Ergonomics draws on many disciplines in its study of humans and their environments, including anthropometry, mechanical engineering, industrial engineering, industrial design, information design, physiology, cognitive psychology and organizational psychology, space psychology.
The term ergonomics first entered the modern lexicon when Polish scientist Wojciech Jastrzębowski used the word in his 1857 article Rys ergonomji czyli nauki o pracy, opartej na prawdach poczerpniętych z Nauki Przyrody. The French scholar Jean-Gustave Courcelle-Seneuil without knowledge of Jastrzębowski's article, used the word with a different meaning in 1858; the introduction of the term to the English lexicon is attributed to British psychologist Hywel Murrell, at the 1949 meeting at the UK's Admiralty, which led to the foundation of The Ergonomics Society. He used it to encompass the studies in which he had been engaged during and after World War II; the expression human factors is a predominantly North American term, adopted to emphasize the application of the same methods to non-work-related situations. A "human factor" is a physical or cognitive property of an individual or social behavior specific to humans that may influence the functioning of technological systems; the terms "human factors" and "ergonomics" are synonymous.
Ergonomics comprise three main fields of research: physical and organizational ergonomics. There are many specializations within these broad categories. Specializations in the field of physical ergonomics may include visual ergonomics. Specializations within the field of cognitive ergonomics may include usability, human–computer interaction, user experience engineering; some specializations may cut across these domains: Environmental ergonomics is concerned with human interaction with the environment as characterized by climate, pressure, light. The emerging field of human factors in highway safety uses human factor principles to understand the actions and capabilities of road users – car and truck drivers, cyclists, etc. – and use this knowledge to design roads and streets to reduce traffic collisions. Driver error is listed as a contributing factor in 44% of fatal collisions in the United States, so a topic of particular interest is how road users gather and process information about the road and its environment, how to assist them to make the appropriate decision.
New terms are being generated all the time. For instance, "user trial engineer" may refer to a human factors professional who specializes in user trials. Although the names change, human factors professionals apply an understanding of human factors to the design of equipment and working methods to improve comfort, health and productivity. According to the International Ergonomics Association, within the discipline of ergonomics there exist domains of specialization. Physical ergonomics is concerned with human anatomy, some of the anthropometric and bio mechanical characteristics as they relate to physical activity. Physical ergonomic principles have been used in the design of both consumer and indu
Behavioural genetics referred to as behaviour genetics, is a field of scientific research that uses genetic methods to investigate the nature and origins of individual differences in behaviour. While the name "behavioural genetics" connotes a focus on genetic influences, the field broadly investigates genetic and environmental influences, using research designs that allow removal of the confounding of genes and environment. Behavioural genetics was founded as a scientific discipline by Francis Galton in the late 19th century, only to be discredited through association with eugenics movements before and during World War II. In the latter half of the 20th century, the field saw renewed prominence with research on inheritance of behaviour and mental illness in humans, as well as research on genetically informative model organisms through selective breeding and crosses. In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, technological advances in molecular genetics made it possible to measure and modify the genome directly.
This led to major advances in model organism research and in human studies, leading to new scientific discoveries. Findings from behavioural genetic research have broadly impacted modern understanding of the role of genetic and environmental influences on behaviour; these include evidence that nearly all researched behaviors are under a significant degree of genetic influence, that influence tends to increase as individuals develop into adulthood. Further, most researched human behaviours are influenced by a large number of genes and the individual effects of these genes are small. Environmental influences play a strong role, but they tend to make family members more different from one another, not more similar. Selective breeding and the domestication of animals is the earliest evidence that humans considered the idea that individual differences in behaviour could be due to natural causes. Plato and Aristotle each speculated on the basis and mechanisms of inheritance of behavioural characteristics.
Plato, for example, argued in The Republic that selective breeding among the citizenry to encourage the development of some traits and discourage others, what today might be called eugenics, was to be encouraged in the pursuit of an ideal society. Behavioural genetic concepts existed during the English renaissance, where William Shakespeare first coined the terms "nature" versus "nurture" in The Tempest, where he wrote in Act IV, Scene I, that Caliban was "A devil, a born devil, on whose nature Nurture can never stick". Modern-day behavioural genetics began with Sir Francis Galton, a nineteenth-century intellectual and cousin of Charles Darwin. Galton was a polymath who studied many subjects, including the heritability of human abilities and mental characteristics. One of Galton's investigations involved a large pedigree study of social and intellectual achievement in the English upper class. In 1869, 10 years after Darwin's On the Origin of Species, Galton published his results in Hereditary Genius.
In this work, Galton found that the rate of "eminence" was highest among close relatives of eminent individuals, decreased as the degree of relationship to eminent individuals decreased. While Galton could not rule out the role of environmental influences on eminence, a fact which he acknowledged, the study served to initiate an important debate about the relative roles of genes and environment on behavioural characteristics. Through his work, Galton "introduced multivariate analysis and paved the way towards modern Bayesian statistics" that are used throughout the sciences—launching what has been dubbed the "Statistical Enlightenment"; the field of behavioural genetics, as founded by Galton, was undermined by another of Galton's intellectual contributions, the founding of the eugenics movement in 20th century society. The primary idea behind eugenics was to use selective breeding combined with knowledge about the inheritance of behaviour to improve the human species; the eugenics movement was subsequently discredited by scientific corruption and genocidal actions in Nazi Germany.
Behavioural genetics was thereby discredited through its association to eugenics. The field once again gained status as a distinct scientific discipline through the publication of early texts on behavioural genetics, such as Calvin S. Hall's 1951 book chapter on behavioural genetics, in which he introduced the term "psychogenetics", which enjoyed some limited popularity in the 1960s and 1970s. However, it disappeared from usage in favour of "behaviour genetics"; the start of behavior genetics as a well-identified field was marked by the publication in 1960 of the book Behavior Genetics by John L. Fuller and William Robert Thompson, it is accepted now that many if not most behaviours in animals and humans are under significant genetic influence, although the extent of genetic influence for any particular trait can differ widely. A decade in February 1970, the first issue of the journal Behavior Genetics was published and in 1972 the Behavior Genetics Association was formed with Theodosius Dobzhansky elected as the association's first president.
The field has since diversified, touching many scientific disciplines. The primary goal of behavioural genetics is to investigate the nature and origins of individual differences in behaviour. A wide variety of different methodological approaches are used in behavioral genetic research, only a few of which are outlined below. Animal behavior genetic studies are considered more reliable than are studies on humans, because animal experiments allow for more variables to be manipulated in the laboratory. In animal research selection experiments have been employed
Educational psychology is the branch of psychology concerned with the scientific study of human learning. The study of learning processes, from both cognitive and behavioral perspectives, allows researchers to understand individual differences in intelligence, cognitive development, motivation, self-regulation, self-concept, as well as their role in learning; the field of educational psychology relies on quantitative methods, including testing and measurement, to enhance educational activities related to instructional design, classroom management, assessment, which serve to facilitate learning processes in various educational settings across the lifespan. Educational psychology can in part be understood through its relationship with other disciplines, it is informed by psychology, bearing a relationship to that discipline analogous to the relationship between medicine and biology. It is informed by neuroscience. Educational psychology in turn informs a wide range of specialities within educational studies, including instructional design, educational technology, curriculum development, organizational learning, special education, classroom management, student motivation.
Educational psychology both draws from and contributes to cognitive science and the learning sciences. In universities, departments of educational psychology are housed within faculties of education accounting for the lack of representation of educational psychology content in introductory psychology textbooks; the field of educational psychology involves the study of memory, conceptual processes, individual differences in conceptualizing new strategies for learning processes in humans. Educational psychology has been built upon theories of operant conditioning, structuralism, humanistic psychology, Gestalt psychology, information processing. Educational psychology has seen rapid growth and development as a profession in the last twenty years. School psychology began with the concept of intelligence testing leading to provisions for special education students, who could not follow the regular classroom curriculum in the early part of the 20th century. However, "school psychology" itself has built a new profession based upon the practices and theories of several psychologists among many different fields.
Educational psychologists are working side by side with psychiatrists, social workers, teachers and language therapists, counselors in attempt to understand the questions being raised when combining behavioral and social psychology in the classroom setting. Educational psychology is a new and growing field of study. Though it can date back as early as the days of Plato and Aristotle, it was not identified as a specific practice, it was unknown that everyday teaching and learning in which individuals had to think about individual differences, development, the nature of a subject being taught, problem solving, transfer of learning was the beginning to the field of educational psychology. These topics are important to education and as a result it is important to understanding human cognition and social perception. Educational psychology dates back to the time of Plato. Plato and Aristotle researched individual differences in the field of education, training of the body and the cultivation of psycho-motor skills, the formation of good character, the possibilities and limits of moral education.
Some other educational topics they spoke about were the effects of music and the other arts on the development of individual, role of teacher, the relations between teacher and student. Plato saw knowledge as an innate ability, which evolves through experience and understanding of the world; such a statement has evolved into a continuing argument of nature vs. nurture in understanding conditioning and learning today. Aristotle observed the phenomenon of "association." His four laws of association included succession, contiguity and contrast. His studies facilitated learning processes. John Locke was considered one of the most influential philosophers in post-renaissance Europe in about mid 1600s. Locke was called "Father of English Psychology". One of Locke's most important works was written in 1690, named An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. In this essay, he introduced the term "tabula rasa" meaning "blank slate." Locke explained that learning was understood through experience only, we were all born without knowledge.
He followed by contrasting Plato's theory of innate learning processes. Locke believed. Locke introduced this idea as "empiricism," or the understanding that knowledge is only built on knowledge and experience. In the late 1600s, John Locke advanced the hypothesis that people learn from external forces, he believed that the mind was like a blank tablet, that successions of simple impressions give rise to complex ideas through association and reflection. Locke is credited with establishing "empiricism" as a criterion for testing the validity of knowledge, thus providing a conceptual framework for development of experimental methodology in the natural and social sciences. Philosophers of education such as Juan Vives, Johann Pestalozzi, Friedrich Fröbel, Johann Herbart had examined and judged the methods of education centuries before the beginnings of psychology in the late 1800s. Juan Vives proposed induction as the method of study and believed in the direct observation and investigation of the study of nature.
His studies focus of humanistic learning, which opposed scholasticism and was influenced by a variety of sources including philosophy, psy
Mathematical psychology is an approach to psychological research, based on mathematical modeling of perceptual, thought and motor processes, on the establishment of law-like rules that relate quantifiable stimulus characteristics with quantifiable behavior. The mathematical approach is used with the goal of deriving hypotheses that are more exact and thus yield stricter empirical validations. Quantifiable behavior is in practice constituted by task performance; as quantification of behavior is fundamental in this endeavor, the theory of measurement is a central topic in mathematical psychology. Mathematical psychology is therefore related to psychometrics. However, where psychometrics is concerned with individual differences in static variables, mathematical psychology focuses on process models of perceptual and motor processes as inferred from the'average individual'. Furthermore, where psychometrics investigates the stochastic dependence structure between variables as observed in the population, mathematical psychology exclusively focuses on the modeling of data obtained from experimental paradigms and is therefore more related to experimental psychology/cognitive psychology/psychonomics.
Like computational neuroscience and econometrics, mathematical psychology theory uses statistical optimality as a guiding principle, assuming that the human brain has evolved to solve problems in an optimized way. Central themes from cognitive psychology. Mathematical psychologists are active in many fields of psychology in psychophysics and perception, problem solving, decision-making, learning and language, collectively known as cognitive psychology, the quantitative analysis of behavior but e.g. in clinical psychology, social psychology, psychology of music. Mathematical modeling has a long history in psychology starting in the 19th century with Ernst Weber and Gustav Fechner being among the first to apply successful mathematical technique of functional equations from physics to psychological processes, they thereby established the fields of experimental psychology in general, that of psychophysics in particular. Researchers in astronomy in the 19th century were mapping distances between stars by denoting the exact time of a star's passing of a cross-hair on a telescope.
For lack of the automatic registration instruments of the modern era, these time measurements relied on human response speed. It had been noted that there were small systematic differences in the times measured by different astronomers, these were first systematically studied by German astronomer Friedrich Bessel. Bessel constructed personal equations from measurements of basic response speed that would cancel out individual differences from the astronomical calculations. Independently, physicist Hermann von Helmholtz measured reaction times to determine nerve conduction speed; these two lines of work came together in the research of Dutch physiologist F. C. Donders and his student J. J. de Jaager, who recognized the potential of reaction times for more or less objectively quantifying the amount of time elementary mental operations required. Donders envisioned the employment of his mental chronometry to scientifically infer the elements of complex cognitive activity by measurement of simple reaction timeThe first psychological laboratory was established in Germany by Wilhelm Wundt, who amply used Donders' ideas.
However, findings that came from the laboratory were hard to replicate and this was soon attributed to the method of introspection that Wundt introduced. Some of the problems resulted from individual differences in response speed found by astronomers. Although Wundt did not seem to take interest in these individual variations and kept his focus on the study of the general human mind, Wundt's U. S. student James McKeen Cattell was fascinated by these differences and started to work on them during his stay in England. The failure of Wundt's method of introspection led to the rise of different schools of thought. Wundt's laboratory was directed towards conscious human experience, in line with the work of Fechner and Weber on the intensity of stimuli. In the United Kingdom, under the influence of the anthropometric developments led by Francis Galton, interest focussed on individual differences between humans on psychological variables, in line with the work of Bessel. Cattell soon helped laying the foundation of psychometrics.
In the United States, behaviorism arose in opposition to introspectionism and associated reaction-time research, turned the focus of psychological research to learning theory. In Europe introspection survived in Gestalt psychology. Behaviorism dominated American psychology until the end of the Second World War, refrained from inference on mental processes. Formal theories were absent. During the war, developments in engineering, mathematical logic and computability theory, computer science and mathematics, the military need to understand human performance and limitations, brought together experimental psychologists, engineers and economists. Out of this mix of different disciplines mathematical psychology arose; the developments in signal processing, information theory, linear systems and filter theory, game theory, stochastic processes and mathematical logic gained a large influence on psychological thinking. Two seminal papers on learning theory in Psychological Review helped to establish the field
Cultural psychology is the study of how cultures reflect and shape the psychological processes of their members. The main tenet of cultural psychology is that mind and culture are inseparable and mutually constitutive, meaning that people are shaped by their culture and their culture is shaped by them; as Richard Shweder, one of the major proponents of the field, writes, "Cultural psychology is the study of the way cultural traditions and social practices regulate and transform the human psyche, resulting less in psychic unity for humankind than in ethnic divergences in mind and emotion." Cultural psychology is confused with cross-cultural psychology. However, cultural psychology is distinct from cross-cultural psychology in that the cross-cultural psychologists use culture as a means of testing the universality of psychological processes rather than determining how local cultural practices shape psychological processes. So whereas a cross-cultural psychologist might ask whether Jean Piaget's stages of development are universal across a variety of cultures, a cultural psychologist would be interested in how the social practices of a particular set of cultures shape the development of cognitive processes in different ways.
Cultural psychology research informs several fields within psychology, including social psychology, cultural-historical psychology, developmental psychology, cognitive psychology. However, the relativist perspective of cultural psychology, through which cultural psychologists compare thought patterns and behaviors within and across cultures, tends to clash with the universal perspectives common in most fields in psychology, which seek to qualify fundamental psychological truths that are consistent across all of humanity. According to Richard Shweder, there has been repeated failure to replicate Western psychology laboratory findings in non-Western settings. Therefore, a major goal of cultural psychology is to have many and varied cultures contribute to basic psychological theories in order to correct these theories so that they become more relevant to the predictions and explanations of all human behaviors, not just Western ones; this goal is shared by many of the scholars. In an attempt to show the interrelated interests of cultural and indigenous psychology, cultural psychologist Pradeep Chakkarath emphasizes that international mainstream psychology, as it has been exported to most regions of the world by the so-called West, is only one among many indigenous psychologies and therefore may not have enough intercultural expertise to claim, as it does, that its theories have universal validity.
The acronym W. E. I. R. D. Describes populations that are Western, Industrialized and Democratic, thus far, W. E. I. R. D. Populations have been vastly overrepresented in psychological research. Findings from psychology research utilizing W. E. I. R. D. Populations are labeled as universal theories and are inaccurately applied to other cultures. Recent research is showing that cultures differ in many areas, such as logical reasoning and social values; the evidence that basic cognitive and motivational processes vary across populations has become difficult to ignore. For example, many studies have shown that Americans and western Europeans rely on analytical reasoning strategies, which separate objects from their contexts to explain and predict behavior. Social psychologists refer to the "fundamental attribution error" or the tendency to explain people's behavior in terms of internal, inherent personality traits rather than external, situational considerations. Outside W. E. I. R. D. Cultures, this phenomenon is less prominent, as many non-W.
E. I. R. D. Populations tend to pay more attention to the context. Asians tend to reason holistically, for example by considering people's behavior in terms of their situation, yet many long-standing theories of how humans think rely on the prominence of analytical thought. By studying only W. E. I. R. D. Populations, psychologists fail to account for a substantial amount of diversity of the global population. Applying the findings from W. E. I. R. D. Populations to other populations can lead to a miscalculation of psychological theories and may hinder psychologists' abilities to isolate fundamental cultural characteristics. Mutual constitution is the notion that the society and the individual have an influencing effect on one another; because a society is composed of individuals, the behavior and actions of the individuals directly impact the society. In the same manner, society directly impacts the individual living within it; the values and ways of life a society exemplifies will have an immediate impact on the way an individual is shaped as a person.
The atmosphere that a society provides for the individual is a determining factor for how an individual will develop. Furthermore, mutual constitution is a cyclical model in which the society and the individual both influence one another. While cultural psychology is reliant on this model, societies fail to recognize this. Despite the overwhelming acceptance that people affect culture and culture affects people, societal systems tend to minimize the effect that people form on their communities. For example, mission statements of businesses and foundations attempt make promises regarding the environment and values that their establishment holds. However, these promises cannot be made in accordance with the mutually consisting theory without being upheld by all participants; the mission statement for the employees of Southwest Airlines, for example, makes th
Big Five personality traits
The Big Five personality traits known as the five-factor model and the OCEAN model, is a taxonomy for personality traits. It is based on common language descriptors; when factor analysis is applied to personality survey data, some words used to describe aspects of personality are applied to the same person. For example, someone described as conscientious is more to be described as "always prepared" rather than "messy"; this theory is based therefore on the association between words but not on neuropsychological experiments. This theory uses descriptors of common language and therefore suggests five broad dimensions used to describe the human personality and psyche; the five factors have been defined as openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion and neuroticism, represented by the acronym OCEAN or CANOE. Beneath each proposed global factor, there are a number of correlated and more specific primary factors. For example, extraversion is said to include such related qualities as gregariousness, excitement seeking, warmth and positive emotions.
That these underlying factors can be found is consistent with the lexical hypothesis: personality characteristics that are most important in people's lives will become a part of their language and, that more important personality characteristics are more to be encoded into language as a single word. The five factors are: Openness to experience. Appreciation for art, adventure, unusual ideas and variety of experience. Openness reflects the degree of intellectual curiosity, creativity and a preference for novelty and variety a person has, it is described as the extent to which a person is imaginative or independent and depicts a personal preference for a variety of activities over a strict routine. High openness can be perceived as unpredictability or lack of focus, more to engage in risky behaviour or drug taking. Individuals that have high openness tend to lean, in occupation and hobby, towards the arts, being creative and appreciative of the significance of intellectual and artistic pursuits.
Moreover, individuals with high openness are said to pursue self-actualization by seeking out intense, euphoric experiences. Conversely, those with low openness seek to gain fulfillment through perseverance and are characterized as pragmatic and data-driven—sometimes perceived to be dogmatic and closed-minded; some disagreement remains about how to contextualize the openness factor. Conscientiousness. Tendency to be organized and dependable, show self-discipline, act dutifully, aim for achievement, prefer planned rather than spontaneous behavior. High conscientiousness is perceived as being stubborn and focused. Low conscientiousness is associated with flexibility and spontaneity, but can appear as sloppiness and lack of reliability. Extraversion. Energetic, assertiveness and the tendency to seek stimulation in the company of others, talkativeness. High extraversion is perceived as attention-seeking and domineering. Low extraversion causes a reserved, reflective personality, which can be perceived as aloof or self-absorbed.
Extroverted people may appear more dominant in social settings, as opposed to introverted people in this setting. Agreeableness. Tendency to be compassionate and cooperative rather than suspicious and antagonistic towards others, it is a measure of one's trusting and helpful nature, whether a person is well-tempered or not. High agreeableness is seen as naive or submissive. Low agreeableness personalities are competitive or challenging people, which can be seen as argumentative or untrustworthy. Neuroticism. Tendency to be prone to psychological stress; the tendency to experience unpleasant emotions such as anger, anxiety and vulnerability. Neuroticism refers to the degree of emotional stability and impulse control and is sometimes referred to by its low pole, "emotional stability". High stability manifests itself as a stable and calm personality, but can be seen as uninspiring and unconcerned. Low stability manifests as the reactive and excitable personality found in dynamic individuals, but can be perceived as unstable or insecure.
Individuals with higher levels of neuroticism tend to have worse psychological well being. People who do not exhibit a clear predisposition to a single factor in each dimension above are considered adaptable and reasonable, yet they can be perceived as unprincipled and calculating. Depending on how much of each trait a person has, it could make someone more susceptible to participating in certain activities. Family life and the way someone was raised will affect these traits. Twin studies and other research have shown that about half of the variation between individuals results from their genetics and half from their environments. Researchers have found conscientiousness, openness to experience, neuroticism to be stable from childhood through adulthood; the Big Five personality traits was the model to comprehend the relationship between personality and academic behaviors. This model was defined by several independent sets of researchers who used factor analysis of verbal descriptors of human behavior.
These researchers began by studying relationships between a large number of verbal descriptors related to personality traits. They reduced the lists of these descriptors by 5–10 fold
Social psychology is the scientific study of how people's thoughts and behaviors are influenced by the actual, imagined or implied presence of others. In this definition, scientific refers to the empirical investigation using the scientific method; the terms thoughts and behavior refer to psychological variables that can be measured in humans. The statement that others' presence may be imagined or implied suggests that humans are malleable to social influences when alone, such as when watching television or following internalized cultural norms. Social psychologists explain human behavior as a result of the interaction of mental states and social situations. Social psychologists examine factors that cause behaviors to unfold in a given way in the presence of others, they study conditions under which certain behavior and feelings occur. Social psychology is concerned with the way these feelings, beliefs and goals are cognitively constructed and how these mental representations, in turn, influence our interactions with others.
Social psychology traditionally bridged the gap between sociology. During the years following World War II there was frequent collaboration between psychologists and sociologists; the two disciplines, have become specialized and isolated from each other in recent years, with sociologists focusing on "macro variables" to a much greater extent than psychologists. Sociological approaches to psychology remain an important counterpart to psychological research in this area. In addition to the split between psychology and sociology, there has been a somewhat less pronounced difference in emphasis between American social psychologists and European social psychologists; as a generalization, American researchers traditionally have focused more on the individual, whereas Europeans have paid more attention to group level phenomena. Although there were some older writings about social psychology, such as those by Islamic philosopher Al-Farabi, the discipline of social psychology, as its modern-day definition, began in the United States at the beginning of the 20th century.
By that time, the discipline had developed a significant foundation. Following the 18th century, those in the emerging field of social psychology were concerned with developing concrete explanations for different aspects of human nature, they attempted to discover concrete cause and effect relationships that explained the social interactions in the world around them. In order to do so, they believed that the scientific method, an empirically based scientific measure, could be applied to human behavior; the first published study in this area was an experiment in 1898 by Norman Triplett, on the phenomenon of social facilitation. During the 1930s, many Gestalt psychologists, most notably Kurt Lewin, fled to the United States from Nazi Germany, they were instrumental in developing the field as something separate from the behavioral and psychoanalytic schools that were dominant during that time, social psychology has always maintained the legacy of their interests in perception and cognition. Attitudes and small group phenomena were the most studied topics in this era.
During World War II, social psychologists studied persuasion and propaganda for the U. S. military. After the war, researchers became interested in a variety of social problems, including gender issues and racial prejudice. Most notable and contentious of these were the Stanley Milgram shock experiments on obedience to authority. In the sixties, there was growing interest in new topics, such as cognitive dissonance, bystander intervention, aggression. By the 1970s, social psychology in America had reached a crisis. There was heated debate over the ethics of laboratory experimentation, whether or not attitudes predicted behavior, how much science could be done in a cultural context; this was the time when a radical situationist approach challenged the relevance of self and personality in psychology. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s social psychology reached a more mature level. Two of the areas social psychology matured in were methods. Careful ethical standards now regulate research. Pluralistic and multicultural perspectives have emerged.
Modern researchers are interested in many phenomena, but attribution, social cognition, the self-concept are the greatest areas of growth in recent years. Social psychologists have maintained their applied interests with contributions in the social psychology of health, education and the workplace. In social psychology, attitudes are defined as learned, global evaluations of a person, place, or issue that influence thought and action. Put more attitudes are basic expressions of approval or disapproval, favorability or unfavorability, or as Bem put it, likes and dislikes. Examples would include liking chocolate ice cream, or endorsing the values of a particular political party. Social psychologists have studied attitude formation, the structure of attitudes, attitude change, the function of attitudes, the relationship between attitudes and behavior; because people are influenced by the situation, general attitudes are not always good predictors of specific behavior. For example, for a variety of reasons, a person may value the environment but not recycle a can on a particular day.
In recent times, research on attitudes has examined the distinction between traditional, self-reported attitude measures and "implicit" or unconscious attitudes. For example, experiments using the Implicit Association Test have found that people demonstrate implicit bias against other races when their explicit responses