User as a two-component-system: physical/cognitive processor

June 13, 2008

“Earlier, it was asserted that usability-based approaches tend to encourage human factors specialists to consider people as processors. Physical processors with attributes such as strength, height and weight, and cognitive processors with attributes such as memory, attention and expectations. Here, then, the user is often looked at as being simply a cognitive and/or physical component of a three component system – the other two components being the product and the environment. It could be argued that the traditional human factors approaches to people ignore the very things that make us human – our emotions, our values, our hopes and our fears.
In order to find a way into these issues, we need to have an understanding not only of how people use products, but also of the role that those products play in people’s lives. This gives a chance to understand how the product relates to the person in a wider sense than just usability and can help the human factors specialist in gaining a wider view of the user requirements – the requirements for pleasure.”

From: Jordan, P. W. (2002), ‘Human factors for pleasure seekers’ in ed. Frascara, J. Design and the Social Sciences: Making Connections, London: Taylor & Francis, p.16

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