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Human Information Processing and Design Principles

Human tasks at work and the conditions to perform these tasks (e.g., equipment used, environment temperature) shall be human-centred designed. The design of the work equipment should always be adapted to and fit to the task of the human user. The Figure illustrates process steps in human information processing with

  • human information acquisition (or perception) through human senses (e.g., sight, hearing, touch, smell taste)
  • human information processing (or reasoning and decision making) through the human brain (e.g., working and long-term memory)
  • human action implementation through human body parts (e.g., fingertips, hands, legs, whole body).

The human interacts with work equipment and machines through human-machine interfaces at

  • the side of machine output that should match human perception
    (e.g., visual display matches human eye) and
  • the side of machine controls that should match human action implementation
    (e.g., keyboard matches human fingers).

Steps in the process of human information processing (i.e., perception, reasoning and decision-making, action implementation) form design requirements to be matched by work equipment design (e.g., feedback, compatibility, controllability).


  • BG Chemie (2003). Mensch-Sicherheit-Technik. Gestern Heute Morgen. Heidelberg: BG Chemie.
  • Chapanis, A. (1959). Research techniques in human engineering. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press.
  • EN 894-1 (2010). Safety of machinery – Ergonomics requirements for the design of displays and control actuators – Part 1: General principles for human interactions with displays and control actuators. Brussels: CEN.
  • Kantowitz, B.H., Sorkin, R.D. (1983). Human factors: Understanding people-system relationships. New York: Wiley.
  • Wickens, C.D., Hollands, J.G., Banbury, S., Parasuraman, R. (2013). Engineering Psychology and Human Performance. Upper Saddle River: Pearson.