Epistemological Self-Confidence in Human Factors Research
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recent conversation in the literature asks whether human factors constructs amount to folk modeling or to strong science. In this paper we explore this further in the context of well-known positions on the production of science and scientific rationality. We inquire about the sources of epistemological self-confidence-the extent to which human factors is satisfied with its beliefs and assumptions about how it knows what it knows. We question whether a large body of evidence for a construct is evidence of strong science, or whether critical reflection and skepticism about this is actually what distinguishes scientific knowledge from folk models. We also review presumptions of a-perspectival objectivity, in which researchers believe they are able to take a "view from nowhere" and enjoy an objective window onto an existing reality. We ask whether human factors constructs don't so much reflect but rather create a particular empirical world, which would not even exist without those constructs. This article serves as an invitation to rethink what we mean by epistemological confidence and how we arrive at it.
Journal of Cognitive Engineering and Decision Making
Copyright 2010 SAGE Publications. This is the author-manuscript version of the paper. Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Please refer to the journal's website for access to the definitive, published version.