Dr. Helen Altman Klein:
Tel: (937) 775-3520
Office: 447 Fawcett Hall
Dr. Helen Altman Klein
Dr. Helen Altman Klein is a Emeritus Professor of Psychology in the Human Factors/Industrial & Organizational Psychology Program at Wright State University. She currently teaches graduate seminar courses in Cross-Cultural Psychology and Health Care Systems and advises graduate students.
In the Applied Psychology Laboratory, we investigate cognition in natural domains including multinational peacekeeping operations, civil aviation, health care management, technology transfer, and military command and control. Our goal is to extend the findings of psychology beyond the laboratory to find effective solutions to applied problems in real-world settings. We look at communication patterns, systems design, teamwork, and training.
Much of the research undertaken in the Applied Psychology Laboratory is grounded in the emerging field of Naturalistic Decision Making. We are trying to understand how people actually make decisions and develop plans. We want to learn why people go wrong and how they can be helped to anticipate and avoid problems. Too often, people blame poor performance on failures to follow procedures, when the problem is really confused and simplistic ideas. Because decision making depends on culture-linked differences in cognition, we study national differences in decision making. Our research domains have included civil aviation, multinational peacekeeping operations, driving, health care systems, and health care managemen. You can read about two of our current applied research domains:
Cross Cultural Cognition
National groups differ in their cognition and perception. These differences have implications for technology transfer, multinational commerce, and military cooperation. They also have implications for predicting and deterring the actions of adversaries. Human Factors and Industrial-Organizational psychologists must understand how cognition varies across cultures and what these differences mean for people and technology. The Applied Psychology Laboratory is addressing these issues.
As international contact increases, military and civilian organizations need to identify the cognitive characteristics of partners, competitors, and adversaries. They must be able to create plans and strategies for interacting with people from other nations. Our laboratory has worked with researchers from China, India, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, and Taiwan to create and test an assessment tool for capturing cognitive differences among national groups. We have also worked with Arabic speaking Middle Easterners to better understand this important group.
Attribution is an important cognitive difference that influences decision making. Some groups tend to attribute events to dispositional causes, while others are more likely to use situational causes. While these differences contribute to international misunderstandings, there is yet little research to detail the impact of these differences and how they can be best managed. Research underway in our laboratory is examining attribution differences in business setting.
Team decision making is critical in both corporate and military settings. It is even more complex for multinational teams. We have studied the demands placed on teams during multinational interchanges. Our long-term objective is to develop decision support systems and training programs that help people work in multination teams. We are also interested in representing these cultural differences in computational models.
Our research in cross-cultural cognition has been funding by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), the Army Research Institute (ARI), the Army Research Laboratory (ARL), The Boeing Company, the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA), and the Defense Modeling and Simulation Office (DMSO).
Patient Self Care
The Applied Psychology Laboratory studied how people manage complex problems in everyday life. One domain of interest has been adherence to medication instructions and the management of complex chronic disorders. Billions of medications are dispensed each year and millions of Americans manage chronic illnesses. Patients must make complex decisions and engage in a bewildering array of self-care behaviors. Our research examines how patients cope with these challenges. We are describing mental models and coping strategies so that we can use human factors solutions to help patients achieve better self-care.
Type 2 diabetes presents a formidable challenge to patients. In order to design interventions to support successful self-management we first need to know how people with type 2diabetes conceptualize their illness and make self-care decisions. We conduct interviews with people with diabetes in order to uncover the mental models patient adopt. The interviews also address patient decision making and strategies for coping with critical incidents. We have been identifying effective and ineffective models for self-care to provide insight into patient cognition.
A related ongoing effort is focused on the design of training systems for diabetes self-management. Human factors and cognitive engineering both provide useful guidelines for the design of training systems now used in domains, such as power-plant management and aviation. We are using these same principals to design advanced diabetes training systems based on the use of simulations and training of mental models.
Traditional research uses well-defined interventions in controlled situations with college students. In contrast, applied questions often require behavioral observations and interviews with practitioners in order to understand complex macrocognitive processes including problem identification, sense making, decision making, and teamwork. We are now exploring medical self-management decisions, as well as the influence of national differences on cognitive engineering, teamwork, and organizational decision making.
Our laboratory provides graduate students with a place where they can work and learn cooperatively. Those new to the lab work on one or more projects during their first year to develop skills and to identify their master’s thesis topic. Advanced students work on problems that interest them. While some of our research is conducted in laboratory settings, research and observation in naturalistic settings is encouraged. If you are considering graduate training, I will be please to talk with you about graduate research and assistantship opportunities in the Applied Psychology Laboratory.