What the Death Star can tell us about ergonomics methods

Guy H Walker, Paul Salmon, Melissa Bedinger, Neville Stanton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
498 Downloads (Pure)


Imagine having to identify a critical flaw in a highly complex planetoid sized orbital battle station under extreme time pressure, and with no clear idea at the outset where the vulnerability will lie? This was the challenge faced by the Rebel Alliance in the film Star Wars. The first option presented in this paper is to employ traditional error identification methods of the sort contemporaneous with film’s release in 1977 and still in widespread use today. The findings show the limitations of this deterministic world-view because the method selected did not predict the actual vulnerability exploited. The second option is to use a systems-based method and this did detect the film ending, and several others. What began as an amusing aside has turned into a highly effective means to communicate complex Ergonomic concepts across disciplines and enhance ergonomic teaching and learning.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)402-422
Number of pages21
JournalTheoretical Issues in Ergonomics Science
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 16 Mar 2016


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