Human Factors Journal Entry #3

Visiting the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge to make observations and write journal entries for class has become a weekend routine. I visited the suspension bridge and park trails again, to see if the third time was a charm. After Dr. Dan’s lecture on “Sensation – Perception – Cognition”, I thought it would be fun to observe and record how people reacted to their experiences on the bridge. The suspension bridge hangs 50 meters above the raging river below and is a wonderful location to observe a variety of reactions and emotions to the stimuli. I focused on how they obtained information using their various senses (sensation), and how they recognized and attended to information (perception).

The primary draw for this North Shore tourist attraction is the experience of the suspension bridge, waterfall, rushing river and tall second growth forest trees. People come from all over to cross the bridge, stand in the middle and to take a photograph to show their friends and families at home. Again, I visited on a weekend and was impressed with the amount of people. (I must try to go on a weekday but my school schedule is tight.) I stood next to the entrance to the bridge with my notebook and pen in hand, trying not to make people feel as if I was observing them.

First, I focused my attention on how people were obtaining information of the experience, how visitors where using their senses to experience the bridge. Visitors used their vision to size up the bridge. To see what materials the bridge is made of, how far it crosses the river, how high it hangs above the rushing water below, where and how the bridge is attached to the rock on either side, and what were other people’s reactions to the bridge. While on the bridge, the visitors would be looking all around them; the experience is certainly a 360 degree one. Visitors used their ears to hear the sounds of: the bridge swaying, bouncing and creaking in the wind and under the weight of the visitors, the wind blowing through the trees, the crashing of the waterfall and the rushing water of the river, and the sounds of other visitors- exclamations of excitement, cries of fear and giggles of nervousness. Almost no visitors used their tongue and taste to sense the bridge, though one very young girl did tongue the bridge when her father held her a little too close to the railing in her chest carrier. Visitors sense the bridge through smell and their noses; they can smell the moistness of the river in the air, the metal of the railings, the trees, bushes and shrubs, the decay of the forest matter, the perfumes and fragrances of other visitors, and the smells of food coming from the café a few meters away. Visitors use touch to feel the texture of the metal railings, the roughness of the trees bark and the wooden boards underfoot. People use their skin to thermally sense the temperature of the: wind, water, mist, metal, wood and air. Individuals also use their vestibular sense to experience the swaying and bouncing of the suspension bridge.

Visitors to the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge use their senses to form perceptions of their experience. The visitor’s brains interpret the information as a whole and then form a unified perception. So the information that visitors sense are interpreted and processed by the brain and form a perception of their experience of the suspension bridge.

I’m finding it very interesting the experience of observation because I feel it’s heightening my senses and perception. I am trying to not simply just watch and to observe but to truly feel and experience the event through my ‘guinea pig’s’ eyes. I’ve also found that trying out the suspension bridge each time I go makes me “see” and “feel” a new emotion. I think next week I will go to a different location to make my observations.


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