Monitor on Psychology - May 2012 - (Page 24)

Capsule TIME Psychology’s first forays into film Lillian and Frank Gilbreth filmed industrial employees on the job in an effort to increase worker safety and happiness, while limiting boredom. By Arlie R. Belliveau ndustrial psychologist Lillian Moller Gilbreth, PhD, and her husband, scientific manager Frank Bunker Gilbreth, are popularly known as the main characters from the 1948 autobiographical book “Cheaper by the Dozen.” Psychologists know the couple for their work on motion study, fatigue and ergonomics and for Lillian’s work as a pioneering woman psychologist. I laboratory space outside of academia. The Gilbreths created what they called micromotion films. These moving images recorded the time and motions required to perform repetitive factory tasks. Their purpose was to provide replicable and reliable measurements for scientific study, in the hopes of developing faster, safer and more efficient methods. In their 12 years of filmmaking, the Gilbreths produced micromotion films for the New England Workers reportedly loved seeing themselves projected onto the big screen, and the Gilbreths set up an exhibition room to periodically screen the films. Lillian believed that these screenings improved morale and output, while promoting a unification phenomenon she called “happiness minutes.” What many people don’t realize is that the Gilbreths were also among psychology’s first filmmakers, producing more than 250,000 feet of silent, blackand-white 35mm films from 1912 to 1924. The Gilbreths filmed not only to record and replay their methods for studying efficiency in the workplace, but also to gain the curiosity and (sometimes hesitant) cooperation of workers. They capitalized on people’s interest in motion pictures to construct a productive 24 Butt Co. (NEBC, a wire-braiding company), Pierce-Arrow Motors, Johns Hopkins Hospital, General Electric, Remington Gold, Ball Brothers Mason Jars, Pears and Lever Soaps, the New York Giants baseball team and the U.S. armed forces. Not all of these jobs were intended for scientific scrutiny. In fact, the Gilbreths staged publicity stunts in which they filmed athletes and doctors. These films were not designed for use as precise measurements, but instead were slanted in the hopes of convincing laborers that micromotion films could help people from all stations in life, not just the lower classes. This was a matter to which the Gilbreths attended throughout their careers, and one that set them apart from their contemporaries. Initially, Frank Gilbreth was a devoted follower of Frederick Winslow Taylor, the man who engineered the American efficiency movement. Taylor took controversial stopwatch time measurements in his efforts to organize factory workflow, increase speed and precision, regulate purchasing, and set quotas. Gilbreth added the unique twist of taking before, during and after photographs of his projects. He used the still shots to attract potential employers and to train new employees. When labor unions objected to Taylor’s methods — arguing that speeded procedures were unsafe, and that the times set for each task were unverifiable and unattainable — Gilbreth realized that he could adapt his photographs into films that might convince skeptics of efficiency study’s validity. If the skeptics themselves were the subjects of the films, and if a clock were clearly visible in the frame of each shot, then (in theory) workers would be able to confirm the accuracy and safety of any timed methods. Although Taylor disapproved (arguing that his new competitor was unqualified for such work), this idea became the basis M O N I T O R O N P S Y C H O L O G Y • M AY 2 0 1 2

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Monitor on Psychology - May 2012

Monitor on Psychology - May 2012
President’s Column
From the CEO
Math + science + motherhood = a tough combination
The rights of indigenous people take center stage at AAAS meeting
Interdisciplinary programs that are leading the way
Good Governance Project moves into its next phase
APA publishes third edition of seminal ADHD book for kids
Government Relations Update
In Brief
Random Sample
Judicial Notebook
Psychology’s first forays into film
Time Capsule
Presidential programming
Obesity researchers receive lifetime achievement awards
Top speakers for psychology’s top meeting
Science Watch
Homing in on sickle cell disease
Psychologist Profile
Alone in the ‘hole’
Public Interest
State Leadership Conference ‘12
Perspective on Practice
Education tops council’s agenda
Meet the candidates for APA’s 2014 president
Presidential election guidelines
Division Spotlight
American Psychological Foundation
Support for sexual miniorities

Monitor on Psychology - May 2012