The effect of posture, pressure and load distribution on (dis)comfort perceived by students seated on school chairs

  • Alessandro NaddeoEmail author
  • Rosaria Califano
  • Peter Vink
Original Paper


The study of ergonomics and (dis)comfort is a major topic of interest to scientific literature since the introduction of ISO 11228. Over the past 30 years, researchers have attempted to understand the mechanisms underlying perceptions of (dis)comfort for a seated subject. Three main factors are recognized as paramount for the comfort performance of a seat: human body posture, pressure at interface, and load distribution on the contact area; this study investigates the relationships between them and examines their significance for (dis)comfort perception. Physiological factors are known to play a role in (dis)comfort perception, and we consider these as a consequence of the three main parameters above. An explanation is given for this hypothesis. Experimental tests were conducted using a school chair with a rigid seat pan and no armrests for reducing the number of factors of influence. Conclusions show the levels of correlation between acquired information and perceived (dis)comfort.


Seating User experience School furniture Posture Comfort 



The tests in the present study were performed in the virtual reality laboratory (VRLab) of the Department of Industrial Engineering at the University of Salerno, Italy. We extend our thanks to the third- and fifth-year mechanical and management engineering students, that gave us their time and patience during many hours of testing.


  1. 1.
    Borg, G.A.V.: Psychophysical bases of perceived exertion. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. 14, 377–381 (1982)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Tilley, A.R., Dreyfuss, H.: The Measure of Man and Woman: Human Factors in Design. Wiley, London. ISBN: 978- 0471099550 (2001)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Holzreiter, S.H., Khole, M.E.: Assessment of gait patterns using neural networks. J. Biomech. 26, 645–651 (1993)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Hamberg-van Reenen, H.H., Beek, A.J., Blatter, B., Grinten, M.P., Mechelen, W., Bongers, P.M.: Does musculoskeletal discomfort at work predict future musculoskeletal pain? Ergonomics 51, 637–648 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Helander, M.G., Zhang, L.: Field studies of comfort and discomfort in sitting. Ergonomics 40, 895–915 (1997)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    De Looze, M.P., Kuijt-Evers, L.F.M., Van Dieen, J.: Sitting comfort and discomfort and the relationships with objective measures. Ergonomics 46, 985–997 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Kuijt-Evers, L.F.M., Groenesteijn, L., De Looze, M.P., Vink, P.: Identifying factors of comfort in using hand tools. Appl. Ergon. 35, 453–458 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Moes, N.C.C.M.: Analysis of sitting discomfort, a review. In: Bust, P.D., McCabe, P.T. (eds.) Contemporary Ergonomics. London: Taylor & Francis, pp. 200–204 (2005)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Zenk, R.: Objektivierung des Sitzkomforts und seine automatische Anpassung. Ph.D. thesis, Technische Universität München (2008)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Zenk, R., Franz, M., Bubb, H., Vink, P.: Technical note: spine loading in automotive seating. Appl. Ergon. 43, 290–295 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    de Korte, E.M., Huysmans, M.A., Jong, A.M., Ven, J.G.M., Ruijsendaal, M.: Effects of four types of non-obtrusive feedback on computer behaviour, task performance and comfort. Appl. Ergon. 43, 344–353 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Vink, P., Bazley, C., Kamp, I., Blok, M.: Possibilities to improve the aircraft interior comfort experience. Appl. Ergon. 43, 354–359 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Groenesteijn, L., Ellegast, R.P., Keller, K., Krause, F., Berger, H., de Looze, M.P.: Office task effects on comfort and body dynamics in five dynamic office chairs. Appl. Ergon. 43, 320–328 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Ellegast, R.P., Kraft, K., Groenesteijn, L., Krause, F., Berger, H., Vink, P.: Comparison of four specific dynamic office chairs with a conventional office chair: Impact upon muscle activation, physical activity and posture. Appl. Ergon. 43, 296–307 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Franz, M., Durt, A., Zenk, R., Desmet, P.M.A.: Comfort effects of a new car headrest with neck support. Appl. Ergon. 43, 336–343 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Kong, Y., Kim, D., Lee, K., Jung, M.: Comparison of comfort, discomfort, and continuum ratings of force levels and hand regions during gripping exertions. Appl. Ergon. 43, 283–289 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Kamp, I.: The influence of car-seat design on its character experience. Appl. Ergon. 43, 329–335 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Alessandro, N., Sandro, M.: Postural comfort inside a car: development of an innovative model to evaluate the discomfort level. SAE Int. J. Passeng. Cars Mech. Syst. 2, 1065–1070 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Noro, K., Naruse, T., Lueder, R., Nao-i, N., Kozawa, M.: Application of Zen sitting principles to microscopic surgery seating. Appl. Ergon. 43, 308–319 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Kee, D., Lee, I.: Relationships between subjective and objective measures in assessing postural stresses. Appl. Ergon. 43, 277–282 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Di Pardo, M., A. Riccio, F. Sessa, A. Naddeo, Talamo, L.: Methodology development for ergonomic analysis of work-cells in virtual environment. SAE Technical Papers (2008)Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Apostolico, A., Cappetti, N., D’Oria, C., Naddeo, A., Sestri, M.: Postural comfort evaluation: Experimental identification of Range of Rest Posture for human articular joints. Int. J. Interact. Des. Manuf. 8, 109–120 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Vink, P., Hallbeck, S.: Editorial: Comfort and discomfort studies demonstrate the need for a new model. Appl. Ergon. 43, 271–276 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Naddeo, A., Cappetti, N., Vallone, M., Califano R.: New trend line of research about comfort evaluation: proposal of a framework for weighing and evaluating contributes coming from cognitive, postural and physiologic comfort perceptions. In: Advances in Social and Organizational Factors, Edited by Peter Vink, Published By “Advances in Human Factors and Ergonomics” Conference 2014, ISBN: 978-1-4951-2102-9 (2014)Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Vink, P.: The sweetness of discomfort: Designing the journey. Inaugural Lecture, Delft University of Technology, June 4, 2014 (2014)Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Vink, P.: Comfort and design: principles and good practice. Boca Raton: CRC Press. ISBN 0-8493-2830-6 (2005)Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Hostens, I., Papaioannou, G., Spaepen, A., Ramon, H.: Buttock and back pressure distribution tests on seats of mobile agricultural machinery. Appl. Ergon. 32, 347–355 (2001)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Moes, N.C.C.M.: Variation in sitting pressure distribution and location of the points of maximum pressure with rotation of the pelvis, gender and body characteristics. Ergonomics 50, 536–561 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Paul, G., Daniell, N., Fraysse, F.: Patterns of correlation between vehicle occupant seat pressure and anthropometry. Work 41, 2226–2231 (2012)Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Kyung, G., Nussbaum, M.A.: Driver sitting comfort and discomfort (part II): relationships with and prediction from interface pressure. Int. J. Ind. Ergon. 38, 526–538 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Vos, G.A., Congleton, J.J., Steven Moore, J., Amendola, A.A., Ringer, L.: Postural versus chair design impacts upon interface pressure. Appl. Ergon. 37, 619–628 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Mergl, C.: Entwicklung eines Verfahrens zur Objektivierung des Sitzkomforts auf Automobilsitzen”. PhD thesis, Lehrstuhl für Ergonomie, Technische Universität München (2006)Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Tessendorf, B., Arnrich, B., Schumm, J., Setz, C., Troster, G.: Unsupervised monitoring of sitting behavior. In: Conference proceedings: Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society. IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society. Conference, pp. 6197–6200 (2009)Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Oyama, H., Noro, K., Mitsuya, R., Takao, H.: Development of a new working posture for VDT. In: Conference Proceedings of HUMACS Conference 2003, Tokyo, Japan: Waseda University, pp. 12–15 (2003)Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Zhiping, L., Jian, W.: Influences of sitting posture and interface activity on human physical and psychological reaction. In: Proceedings of the 5th International Conference on Bioinformatics and Biomedical Engineering (ICBBE). pp. 10–12 May 2011, Wuhan, China (2011)Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Naddeo, A., Cappetti, N., D’Oria, C.: Proposal of a new quantitative method for postural comfort evaluation. Int. J. Ind. Ergon. 48, 25–35 (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Wang, B., Jin, X., Cheng, B., Tao, X.: Assessment of driver movements during prolonged driving using seat pressure measurements. In: Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, pp. 1568–1572 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Ciaccia, F.R.D.A.S., Sznelwar, L.I.: An approach to aircraft seat comfort using interface pressure mapping. Work 41, 240–245 (2012)Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Naddeo, A., Cappetti, N., Califano, R., Vallone, M.: The role of expectation in comfort perception: the mattresses evaluation experience. Procedia Manuf. 3, 4784–4791 (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Vink, P., Lips, D.: Sensitivity of the human back and buttocks: the missing link in comfort seat design. Appl. Ergon. 58, 287–292 (2017)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Maradei, M., Quintana, F.L., Castellanos-Olarte, J.M.: Assessment of biomechanical demands and discomfort in drivers to stablish design criteria for truck seats. Int. J. Interact. Des. Manuf. 10(4), 431–437 (2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    Hiemstra-van Mastrigt, S., Kamp, I., Veen, S.A.T., Vink, P., Bosch, T.: The influence of active seating on car passengers’ perceived comfort and activity levels. Appl. Ergon. 47, 211–219 (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. 43.
    Renda, A., Pelkmans, J., Schrefler, L., Luchetta, G., Simonelli, F., Mustilli, F., Wieczorkiewicz J.: The EU furniture market situation and a possible furniture products initiative. Final report to the European Commission DG Enterprise and Industry Within Framework Contract /ENTR/008/006. (2014)
  44. 44.
    Carneiro, V., Gomes, Â., Rangel, B.: Proposal for a universal measurement system for school chairs and desks for children from 6 to 10 years old. Appl. Ergon. 58, 372–385 (2017)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    James, C., James, D., Nie, V., Schumacher, T., Guest, M., Tessier, J., Marley, J., Bohatko-Naismith, J., Snodgrass, S.: Musculoskeletal discomfort and use of computers in the university environment. Appl. Ergon. 69, 128–135 (2018)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. 46.
    Hartung, J., Mergl, C., Bubb, H.: Reliability of pressure measurement on car seats. SAE Technical Papers (2004)Google Scholar
  47. 47.
    Franz, M., Zenk, R., Durt, A., Vink, P.: Disc pressure effects on the spine, influenced by extra equipment and a massage system in car seats. SAE Int. J. Passeng. Cars Electron. Electr. Syst. 1, 768–774 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. 48.
    Carfagni, M., Furferi, R., Governi, L., Volpe, Y.: A vane-motor automatic design procedure. Int. J. Interact. Des. Manuf. 7(3), 147–157 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. 49.
    Chamoret, D., Peyraut, F., Gomes, S., Feng, Z.Q.: Finite element approach applied to human digital model for biomechanical modeling. Int. J. Interact. Des. Manuf. 4(1), 75–82 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. 50.
    Bell, J.L., Taylor, M.A., Chen, G.-X., Kirk, R.D., Leatherman, E.R.: Evaluation of an in-vehicle monitoring system (IVMS) to Reduce risky driving behaviors in commercial drivers: comparison of in-cab warning lights and supervisory coaching with videos of driving behavior. J. Saf. Res. 60, 125–136 (2017)CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag France SAS, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Industrial EngineeringUniversity of Salerno (ITALY)FiscianoItaly
  2. 2.Faculty of Industrial Design EngineeringDelft University of TechnologyDelftThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations