The Content and Context of Performance: An Autobiographical Account of Scientific Development

Hancock, P.A. (2012). The content and context of performance: An autobiographical account of scientific development. Kinesiology Review, 1, 197-206.

What I seek to achieve in this article is an exploration of how some of the distilled and assembled principles of behavior can be applied to human goals, aspirations, and performance writ large. I look to do this through an analysis of various areas of application, although the primary framework upon which I erect this discourse is my own autobiographical progress in science. My grounding in formal research was derived from motor learning and control and it then developed into an examination of all human interaction with technical systems under the general title human factors/ergonomics. In showing an indissoluble link between the foundations of motor control and the technological mediation of human factors and ergonomics, I hope to inform and inspire their consideration of the greater aspirations for all of kinesiological science. In terms of specifics, I discuss the work my laboratory has produced over a number of decades on issues such as driving, flight, and other human-augmenting technologies, with a special focus on performance under stress and high workload conditions. To conclude, I discuss, dispute, and finally dispense with the proposition that science and purpose (proximal understanding and ultimate meaning) can be dissociated. I hope to demonstrate why the foregoing principles and their ubiquitous application mean that science in general bears a heavy, if unacknowledged burden with respect to the current failings, especially of Western society.

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