Assessing the effects of positive feedback and reinforcement throughout the implementation phase of an ergonomic intervention

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Title: Assessing the effects of positive feedback and reinforcement throughout the implementation phase of an ergonomic intervention
Author: Brandenburg, David Lawrence
Advisors: Carolyn Sommerich, PhD, Committee Member
Michael Wogalter, PhD, Committee Member
Gary A. Mirka, PhD, Committee Chair
Abstract: It is not uncommon to encounter a situation in ergonomic intervention research where there is resistance toward proposed changes to someone's work habits or workstation. Often, this has negative consequences when attempting to study the effectiveness of an intervention. Additionally, research into the implementation of an ergonomic intervention is sparse. Therefore, in an attempt to combat these problems, a study was conducted in the ergonomics laboratory at North Carolina State University. The experiment assessed the effects of positive feedback and reinforcement on the acceptance of an ergonomic intervention. Two groups of subjects were used; the first, or control, group performed a screwdriving task using an ergonomic intervention without interruption. The second group was the feedback group, who received positive feedback and reinforcement while performing the same task. Significant results from posttest survey questions showed a 29-57% more positive response from the feedback group. Additionally, there was no instance where the feedback group answered significantly less positively. With respect to the two remaining types of data, performance and perceived discomfort, no significant difference was seen either between groups or across the two days of testing. From these results, it can be seen that the feedback seemed to positively influence the acceptance of the ergonomic intervention. However, it did not negatively affect a person's performance on the task nor did it influence her or his perceived discomfort. The results would indicate that positive feedback during the implementation phase of ergonomic intervention research has a positive impact on the perceptions of the person working with the intervention. These results are consistent with the body of literature on the positive effects of participatory ergonomics and may lead to more effective techniques for conducting ergonomic intervention research.
Date: 2003-01-27
Degree: MS
Discipline: Industrial Engineering

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