Should the Environment Be a Human Factor?

Stanley Ruecker, Claudia Grisales, John A. Capozzo, Juan Alfonso De La Rosa, Gerry Derksen, Priscilla Boff Ferronato, Thais Cristina Sehn, Sung Soo Shin

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


For many decades, we recognized four human factors: physical, cognitive, social, and cultural. Approximately at the turn of the millennium, we increasingly began to recognize, based on a variety of evidence from psychology, physiology, neurophilosophy, and other fields, that affect should be added as a new category. To understand the human, the argument went, we were missing an important component if we left out emotion. That perspective has been sufficiently well accepted that the dedicated society and conference for the topic, Design and Emotion, was able to declare success, and held its last event in Amsterdam, then closed its doors in 2016. In this paper, we argue that we should recognize that another aspect of being human is the environment itself. As ecological psychologist Gibson famously said, “Do not ask what is in your head. Ask instead what your head is in” [1]. In order to more completely understand the human factors that are relevant to a particular design, we should be systematically studying the surrounds. These will include everything from the many microscopic symbiotes that make up the human system, to the infrastructure designed and developed by people, to the natural support provided by the planet. Although not typically recognized as part of being human, it is unreasonable to think of people as somehow being apart from the environment that they inhabit. The tendency to separate the two into distinct categories has arguably resulted in some of the worst effects of human activity, as has become increasingly recognized by the people interested in post-human design (e.g. [2–5]).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAdvances in Interdisciplinary Practice in Industrial Design - Proceedings of the AHFE International Conference on Interdisciplinary Practice in Industrial Design, 2019
EditorsCliff Sungsoo Shin
Number of pages7
ISBN (Print)9783030204693
StatePublished - 2020
EventAHFE International Conference on Interdisciplinary Practice in Industrial Design, 2019 - Washington D.C., United States
Duration: Jul 24 2019Jul 28 2019

Publication series

NameAdvances in Intelligent Systems and Computing
ISSN (Print)2194-5357
ISSN (Electronic)2194-5365


ConferenceAHFE International Conference on Interdisciplinary Practice in Industrial Design, 2019
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityWashington D.C.


  • Ecology
  • Environment
  • Human factors
  • Post-humanism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Computer Science(all)


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