Behavioural research methods enable us to describe behaviour objectively and to measure it. It is used to investigate complex communication patterns, to identify chronological orders between cognitive processes, or to give detailed description of cognitive limitations, e.g., in stroke patients, and to compare this to healthy persons. Behavioural methods also allow us to detect human abilities and characteristics at an individual level and to compare them with the general public.
Systematic behavior observation is a research tool permitting investigation of possible links between the recorded behavior and psychological processes. In general, behavior will be videotaped and analyzed via computers with specialized software. Akzelerometrie is another form of behavior observation in which people’s bodily activity is tracked by mobile devices (e.g., wristband). This allows the assessment of activity patterns and frequency in their daily live. The advantage of this method lies in its high ecological validity.
Facial Action Coding is a technique with which visible movements of facial muscles are described in detail using photos or films and a complex coding system (Facial Action Coding System, FACS). The technique allows assessing even subtle complex emotional facial expressions. The main fields of application are the Affective Neurosciences and Emotion Psychology.
Eye tracking is used to monitor eye movements during various tasks. The position of the eye is extracted using video images and infrared light (which is not visible to the human eye). Analysing eye movements provides a valuable description of how information is selected and processed.
Computer technologies enables the measurements of reaction within milliseconds. This allows inferences on specific information processing activities. Mainly reactions in rather simple tasks (e.g., Is the dot on the left or right side?) are recorded. Due to high control in a laboratory and the specific manipulation of single parameters in the experimental tasks, this method is predominantly used to identify causal relationships.
Virtual Reality can illustrate complex facts. They are used to visualize situations, and, in connection with 3D animation or interactive characters we obtain various usage scenarios. One can move through the virtual space, e.g., a town or a museum. It is also possible to move things within the virtual reality based on "real" events.
Modern (flight-)simulators allow to conduct experimental psychophysiological research under well controlled conditions, if tasks follow well designed experimental paradigms. Tasks with high ecological validity can be studied in contrast to classical laboratory research. Different kinds of simulators are available for human factors research in Graz. The development of specific paradigms „exercises“ for aviation psychophysiology allowed to have direct comparisons ranging from studies with a simulator mock-up in the laboratory (Institute of Psychology, University of Graz) , via optimized training and test paradigms in the simulator (cooperation with research platform flight simulation at the TU Graz, and AMST Systemtechnik GmbH, Ranshofen) to tests in the cockpit (Pitts2B; Research Project APTEM, FFG). Simulator based psychophysiological research is also conducted for topics in air traffic management.
The discipline of psychoacoustics investigates how objective acoustic events are translated into subjective auditory sensations. Individual experience plays an important role in this respect. Especially musical training enhances the sensitivity of the auditory system to discriminate subtle acoustic differences.