On Monday, I Am an Optimist

Hancock, P.A. (1999). On Monday, I am an optimist. Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Bulletin, 42(11), 1-2. (Presidential Column).

On Monday, I am an optimist. I come to work fired by the hope an expectation of doing something substantive and useful. As someone in human factors and ergonomics, I am given this chance because our area is intrinsically motivating and extrinsically important to society. In my laboratory, we are engaged in some intriguing experiments on accident avoidance maneuvers in which we have two drivers in separate simulation facilities but in a shared virtual world. The problem of how to bring these drivers into an accident-likely situation while giving only the bare instruction to “drive safely” has been a significant methodological challenge.
We have a number of innovative solutions to this problem and are now getting important data. I am enthused over this new window into the collision process. Perhaps we can find ways to improve avoidance behavior and save some individuals from the carnage of a major crash. It is a worthy goal, and it motivates me. I have some dedicated graduate students whose excitement mirrors my own. They have brought in some recent publication I have not had time to search out. They have new views on the data and ideas for additional work.

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