The original conception of the Leuven Conference was that there should be exchange of ideas between two groups of research workers and practitioners. The first group is concerned with the interaction of man with the physical world usually but not always in the course of work. This involves man-machine co-ordination, or, in more general terms, man as a system component with machines and procedures (hardware and software respectively) as the other main components. There are two complementary design tasks, one is to improve the effectiveness of the matching of machines and procedures to the abilities and limitations of men — usually designated as ergonomics and the other is the improved performance of the man by training and related procedures such as personnel selection, assessment and development. The second group are the social psychologists adopting a particular approach designated as’ social skills’. At the research level this involves the study of communication between people usually but not necessarily restricted to the two individuals and at the operational level it involves such problems as improving the ability of individuals who are seen as failing to cope with the world and particularly other people (behaviour therapy) and improving the ability of professionals whose effectiveness depends on skills in the interview situation (the diagnostic clinic, the selection interview and so on). Although these groups rarely communicate with each other through the normal scientific media of conferences and journals it seemed that such communication might be feasible and fruitful for two reasons. Firstly they rely on the same scientific background of human performance and skill studies in laboratories and the field and on the general principles of psychometrics. In short on the main stream of psychology as it has developed in the past thirty years. Secondly they seem to be converging on the same region of practical problems which can be designated as team performance (Fig. 1). The first group, dealing with man as a system component, are now faced with systems with more than one man in them so that there are problems of communication between men as well as between men and machines. Moreover these are not pure informational exchanges, for example it is recognised that the efficiency and safety of big systems can depend on how well the controlling team interact in an emotional/social sense as well as in the formal communication sense. The second group should in principle, have something to contribute to the solution of these problems. It was considered that one way to facilitate this exchange would be to focus on the particular technique of social skills analysis. How can we identify and describe the key features of skill as manifested in the people-interaction situation? Unfortunately the concepts and the terminology in relation to this issue are ambiguous and confusing. It seems appropriate to begin by trying to clarify what we wish to discuss.
KeywordsSocial Skill Team Performance Skill Analysis Interaction Situation Perceptual Skill
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