The vigilance decrement reflects limitations in effortful attention, not mindlessness
Abbreviated Journal Title
SUSTAINED ATTENTION; PERFORMANCE; FAILURES; WORKLOAD; STRESS; Behavioral Sciences; Engineering, Industrial; Ergonomics; Psychology, ; Applied; Psychology
Robertson, Manly, Andrade, Baddeley, and Yiend (1997) proposed that the decline in performance efficiency over time in vigilance tasks (the vigilance decrement) is characterized by "mindlessness" or a withdrawal of attentional effort from the monitoring assignment. We assessed that proposal using measures of perceived mental workload (NASA-TLX) and stress (Dundee Stress State Questionnaire). Two types of vigilance task were employed: a traditional version, wherein observers made button-press responses to signify detection of rarely occurring critical signals, and a modified version, developed by Robertson et al. to promote mindlessness via routinization, wherein button-press responses acknowledged frequently occurring neutral stimulus events and response withholding signified critical signal detection. The vigilance decrement was observed in both tasks, and both tasks generated equally elevated levels of workload and stress, the latter including cognitions relating to performance adequacy. Vigilance performance seems better characterized by effortful attention (mindfulness) than by mindlessness. Actual or potential applications of this research include procedures to reduce the information-processing demand imposed by vigilance tasks and the stress associated with such tasks.
"The vigilance decrement reflects limitations in effortful attention, not mindlessness" (2003). Faculty Bibliography 2000s. 3784.