Human Factors Issues in Emergency Response Communication
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Science
Objective: To explore sustained attention in an ecologically valid experiment and to compare two forms of communication technology used by Public Safety Officers.
Background: The Sustained Attention to Response Task (SART) is a computer based task designed to measure sustained attention. Participants respond to frequently occurring neutral stimuli and withhold responses to rare target stimuli. Errors of commission (incorrectly responding to target) were traditionally taken as indexes of sustained attention ability. However there is debate in the literature as to whether SART measures sustained attention or ability to inhibit a prepotent motor response (response inhibition theory). A number of hypotheses and research questions were tested, in an ecologically valid setting, to investigate whether SART measures response inhibition or sustained attention, and to test the effects of different types of communication technology on performance.
Method: Participants completed a target rich task (high go/low no-go), a target sparse task (low go/high no-go), a verbal recall task, and dual versions of the target rich and target sparse tasks, with the verbal recall task as the secondary task. Participants used a ‘Taser’ to subdue threats (images of people holding guns) on large screens. Participants used either no technology, or one of two forms of radio communication technology used by Public Safety Officers to complete the recall task.
Results: Results largely supported the theory that response inhibition is involved in the SART, which is consistent with previous research. There were minimal differences in performance across the technology groups.
Conclusion: Results for the traditional computer-based SART have been extended to the present study which employed novel stimuli. Future studies should explore further ways to increase ecological validity of the SART, and investigate whether other perceptual or social processes affect performance when novel stimuli are used.