When a task is boring, repetitive, and takes place over a long period of time, individuals have a propensity to experience a gradual decline in performance known as the vigilance decrement (Mackworth, 1948). This negative trend is consistent across most populations (Davies & Parasuraman, 1982), though slight variations can occur based on the characteristics of the task, as well as characteristics of the human performing it. However, despite the many differences between these tasks, most studies are similar in the sense that, more often than not, participants are provided with immediate feedback on their performance throughout most laboratory trials. Yet, in applied settings, feedback is not always feasible. In fact, in many circumstances, if real-time feedback such as this was always available, then the role of the human component of the system may be brought into question. This also may be concerning for validity of laboratory studies which utilize feedback. Therefore, one goal of this experiment, as well as future work, is to continue to assess the importance of feedback by examining differences in performance on a vigilance task during which feedback may or may not be present. In addition to recent work relating to feedback, many current studies have also examined individual differences in the context of vigilance. Interestingly, it has been shown that performance accuracy often correlates to measures of higher order processing abilities including inhibition, which a component of working memory (Smallwood & Schooler, 2006). Additionally, when working memory load is increased, vigilant behavior also declines (Helton & Russell, 2011). Therefore, an additional goal of this study was to determine how performance relates to individual differences in higher order cognitive processing, such as working memory capacity and need for cognition. It was found that feedback does significantly improve performance, which is worth considering as issues relating to vigilance decrements are addressed in applied environments. The individual differences measures did not yield any significant results.

Thesis Completion




Thesis Chair

Hancock, Peter A.


Bachelor of Science (B.S.)


College of Sciences




Orlando (Main) Campus



Access Status

Open Access