There is a general assumption that given the right information, people will examine their options and come to a sensible conclusion. It is also assumed that in order to get information from someone, you simply have to ask the right question. But ergonomics and human factors experts know that even when information is available and presented in a clear, concise way, the human brain struggles to put it all together into a coherent whole. They also know that identifying the right question to ask can be incredibly difficult, particularly in complex situations. In confusing and chaotic circumstances, or when information is biased or unclear, people may make decisions that go against their own interests, decisions that have disastrous consequences.
The articles in this month’s issue of The Ergonomist address ways people can be supported in giving, receiving and understanding information.
Michael Brown and Glyn Lawson describe the use of drama to elicit rich information from users to inform user-centred design; information that can’t be gleaned from surveys and interviews.
Genovefa Kefalidou and Robert Houghton discuss the processes that groups go through when amalgamating information from different sources and how these processes can be supported and improved to aid decision making.
And Maria Mikela Chatzimichailidou argues that there has been a failure to effectively communicate the principles of systems theory to those with enough influence in healthcare organisations to fully implement them. She believes that it is necessary to go back to basics to remedy misunderstandings.
The Ergonomist is the membership magazine of the Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors. It is available free to members, in print, on the MyIEHF portal and on the app, search ‘ergonomist’ in the app store. Non-members can also buy individual copies of the magazine on the app.
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