A contemporary investigation into anthropometric dimensions and applications for design 70 years after the publication of "The Average Man"
Authors: Robert Pettys Baker, Jerritt Smith, Megan Clarke, Emily Cook, Baonhia Xiong, Minji Yu, Linsey Griffin
Abstract: In 1952, Gilbert S. Daniels published his seminal report “The ’Average Man’?” which examined the measurements of 4,063 active United States Air Force personnel (Daniels. 1952). This report detailed a profound yet simple finding: that after eliminating for ten common anthropometric measurements, no one person meets the average for all body dimensions. We analyzed Two anthropometric data bases over two studies, following an updated version of Daniels’ (1952) original method. The biggest changes were not eliminating the top and bottom percentiles of the population, and adjusted the calculation to find middle 25-30%. The databases examined were ANSUR II (Gorden et al., 2014) and CAESAR (Robinette et al., 2002), to see how civilian and military populations compare. The results of both studies were generally consistent with Daniels (1952), however we did discover that some individuals were able to meet the criteria for average after ten measurements. The best performance took place in the ANSUR II combined condition, all three individuals were men. This last part is especially important to note, as the combined sample eliminated women out of the sample faster than men. Being eliminated after the sixth measurement. This confirms a potential bias to combining men’s and women’s measurements without great care. Based on our analysis of modern anthropometric databases using Daniels’ original method it is clear that, while we found some “average people”, the significance of its findings holds true. This is not to say we should ignore the average, but we should understand its use in context and strive to go beyond it. Thinking past a formative understanding of how people are shaped, and instead into what is needed to create well-fitting products for a specific population. Examples spanning several industries merely scratch the surface of what needs to be addressed. Looking around as we go through our day, minor and major inconveniences become apparent. They cannot be all fixed at once, but through diligent research and thoughtful design we can use the principles of universal design to our advantage. Looking ahead to the next 70 years, a continued growth in optimizing products for the individual user and helping these users understand why these optimizations matter is not just desirable, but important.
Keywords: Anthropometry, Sizing and Fit, Average, Design
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