Nonlinear Dynamics, Psychology, and Life Sciences, Vol. 20, Iss. 4, October, 2016, pp. 509-535
@2016 Society for Chaos Theory in Psychology & Life Sciences


Cognitive Workload and Fatigue in a Vigilance Dual Task: Miss Errors, False Alarms, and the Effect of Wearing Biometric Sensors While Working

Stephen J. Guastello, Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI
Katherine E. Reiter, Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI
Matthew Malon, Mt. Mary University, Milwaukee, WI

Abstract: The effects of workload, fatigue, and practice on the performance of cognitive tasks are often intertwined. Previous research has shown that these influences can be separated with the two cusp catastrophe models. This study expanded an earlier investigation of the two models for workload and fatigue in a vigilance task to include a wider range of bifurcation variables that could affect the elasticity versus rigidity of the operator in response to workload and added performance variability resulting from fatigue. The study also responded to a concern in the literature that performance on cognitive tasks can be complicated by adaptive responses to artificial task situations and thus distort underlying cognitive events. Therefore, we also explored whether wearing biometric sensors, frequently used in workload studies, can affect performance dynamics. Participants were 279 undergraduates who responded to target stimuli that appeared on a simulated security camera display at three rates of speed while completing a secondary task. Participants worked alone, in pairs, or in pairs wearing GSR sensors. Results supported the efficacy of the two models and isolated the impact of wearing sensors on the fatigue process. The strongest control variables across both the workload and fatigue models were field independence, anxiety, indecisiveness, inflexibility, secondary task completion, working in pairs, and wearing the sensors. The contributing effect of wearing sensors could possibly extend to other types of wearable technologies.

Keywords: cognitive workload, fatigue, cusp catastrophe, speed, iatrogenic effects, vigilance