Psychophysical Strength - Theory And Description Of The Psychophysical Methodology; Physical Strength Assessment In Ergonomics
Description:According to contemporary psychophysical theory, the relationship between the strength of a perceived sensation (S) and the intensity of a physical stimulus (1) is best expressed by a power relationship.(1) S=kln (1) This psychophysical principle has been applied to many practical problems, including the development of scales or guidelines for effective temperature, loudness, brightness, and ratings of perceived exertion. Based on the results of a number of experiments using a variety of scaling methods and a number of different muscle groups, the pooled estimate of the exponent for muscular effort and force is 1.7.(2) When applying this principle to work situations, it is assumed that individuals are capable and willing to consistently identify a specified level of perceived sensation (S). For manual materials handling tasks, this specified level is usually the maximum acceptable weight or maximum acceptable force. These phrases are defined by the instructions given to the test subject:(3) You are to work on an incentive basis, working as hard as you can without straining yourself or becoming unusually tired, weakened, overheated, or out of breath. If the task involves lifting, the experiment measures the maximum acceptable weight of lift. Similarly, there are maximum acceptable weights for lowering and carrying. Such tests are isoinertial in nature; however, in contrast to the tests described in Chapter 3, they are typically used to test submaximal, repetitive handling capabilities. Data are also available for pushing and pulling. These are reported as maximum acceptable forces and include data for initial as well as sustained pulling or pushing. Why Use Psychophysical Methods? Snook identified several advantages and disadvantages to using psychophysical methods for determining maximum acceptable weights.(4) The advantages include: • Realistic simulation of industrial work (face validity); • Ability to study intermittent tasks (physiological steady state not required); • Results are consistent with the industrial engineering concept of "a fair day's work for a fair day's pay"; • Results are reproducible; and • Results appear to be related to low-back pain (content validity).
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