It was a dark and lonely night – as your client, a middle aged man, drove along an unfamiliar country road, watching out for deer that often jump out in front of cars at that time of year. Soon after the road curved to the right he realized that a disabled car with no lights on was angled across the road in front of him.
Back in graduate school, the Psychology Department chair at MIT liked to tell his classes about the three Laws of Nature: the Law of Falling Bricks, the Law of Falling Cats, and the Law of Falling People. Physicists have formulated the precise laws that describe how a brick falls from a table to the floor. Biologists have discovered how cats fall differently from bricks, twisting reflexively to always land on their feet. But what laws completely describe a person falling from a roof? This is the challenge of behavioral scientists.
To err is human; to design is divine. Forensic Human Factors specialists help lawyers analyze the root cause of an accident by determining who erred and why. Human factors applies research from a number of fields to design and evaluate things that people use in work and everyday activities