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19-02-2016 | Original Article

Disrupting monotony while increasing demand: benefits of rest and intervening tasks on vigilance

Auteurs: Brandon C. W. Ralph, Kris Onderwater, David R. Thomson, Daniel Smilek

Gepubliceerd in: Psychological Research | Uitgave 2/2017

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Abstract

In the experiments presented here, we examined the impact of intervening tasks on the vigilance decrement. In Experiment 1 participants either (a) continuously performed a visuospatial vigilance task, (b) received a rest break, or (c) temporarily performed a different, demanding visuospatial task in the middle of the vigil. Both taking a rest break and performing the intervening task were found to alleviate the vigilance decrement in response times. Target detection accuracy was equivalent across groups. In Experiment 2 we obtained subjective ratings of task demand, boredom, motivation, and mind wandering for both the vigilance task and intervening task administered in Experiment 1. The intervening task was rated as more demanding in terms of mental demand, physical demand, temporal demand, own performance, effort, and frustration. In addition, participants also reported being more bored, less motivated, and reported mind wandering more frequently when completing the vigil. Disruptions to task monotony (even if cognitively demanding), can alleviate the vigilance decrement. The implications of this finding with respect to current theoretical accounts of the vigilance decrement are discussed.
Voetnoten
1
We found no evidence of a performance trade-off between the change in correct RTs and the change in hit rates from pre-intervention (Block 2) to post-intervention (Block 3) for the Continuous Vigil condition, r(52) = −.10, p = .49, or the Car Task condition, r(52) = .17, p = .23. However, we did observe a marginal RT-hit rate trade-off for the Rest condition from pre-intervention to post-intervention, r(50) = .27, p = .05.
 
2
Data collection stopping rule: In Experiment 2 we aimed to collect similar sample sizes as those in Experiment 1 for each counterbalance. As such, our goal was approximately 50 participants per counterbalance. We stopped data collection slightly short of this goal due to a paucity of available participants for testing.
 
3
In our instantiation of the NASA-TLX, the scales ranged from 0 to 20, rather than from 1 to 21.
 
4
We would like to thank a reviewer of this manuscript for suggesting this mechanism by which temporarily performing a demanding task could confer performance benefits onto the primary vigil.
 
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Metagegevens
Titel
Disrupting monotony while increasing demand: benefits of rest and intervening tasks on vigilance
Auteurs
Brandon C. W. Ralph
Kris Onderwater
David R. Thomson
Daniel Smilek
Publicatiedatum
19-02-2016
Uitgeverij
Springer Berlin Heidelberg
Gepubliceerd in
Psychological Research / Uitgave 2/2017
Print ISSN: 0340-0727
Elektronisch ISSN: 1430-2772
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/s00426-016-0752-7

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