International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics
Pepper spray design, Pepper spray usage, Self-defense device, Usability, Perception
Ergonomics | Industrial Engineering | Industrial Technology
Pepper spray is widely used in the US, and is marketed as an effective self-defense device. While pepper spray can be useful in deterring an attacker, many pepper spray owners do not have any experience using it. There is a dearth of published studies that focus on civilian pepper-spray use, not to mention first time pepper-spray users. A study to analyze pepper-spray designs with first-time users, to see how the design, specifically the safety mechanism, affects response time and overall performance would be helpful. The study was conducted in 2 parts – a survey to understand user perception, and a lab experiment using a 2 × 2 randomized block design with two designs of pepper sprays (side-slide safety and flip-top safety) and the two starting locations for the pepper spray (purse or pocket) as the manipulated factors. Results revealed a significant difference in response times between the flip-top pepper-spray and the side-slide pepper-spray. There was also a significant difference in response times between using the index or thumb as the trigger finger but no significant difference in response times when the pepper-spray for location (purse or pocket). Overall, participants rated the side-slide device as the most effective self-defense device.
Relevance to industry
Because there is no other research in the area of first-time pepper-spray users, let alone civilian pepper-spray users, much can be learned about how well people use these devices in a real-world situation, and when there is a highly stressful situation how well does pepper-spray allow an individual to protect him or herself. This study starts the discussion on some of these topics.
David Strybel and Anil R. Kumar. "Civilian pepper spray for self defense: Understanding user perception and impact of design on user performance" International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics (2020). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ergon.2020.103059
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