Automation, adaptive automation, multiple resource theory, stress, workload


Throughout the many years of research examining the various effects of automation on operator performance, stress, workload, etc., the focus has traditionally been on the level of automation, and the invocation methods used to alter it. The goal of the current study is to instead examine the utilization of various types of automation with the goal of better meeting the operator’s cognitive needs, thus improving their performance, workload, and stress. The task, control of a simulated unmanned robotic system, is designed to specifically stress the operator’s visual perception capabilities to a greater degree. Two types of automation are implemented to support the operator’s performance of the task: an auditory beep aid intended to support visual perception resources, and a driving aid automating control of the vehicle’s navigation, offloading physical action execution resources. Therefore, a comparison can be made between types of automation intended to specifically support the mental dimension that is under the greatest demand (the auditory beep) against those that do not (the driving automation). An additional evaluation is made to determine the benefit of adaptively adjusting the level of each type of automation based on the current level of task demand, as well as the influence of individual differences in personality. Results indicate that the use of the auditory beep aid does improve performance, but also increases Temporal Demand and Effort. Use of driving automation appears to disengage the operator from the task, eliciting a vigilance response. Adaptively altering the level of automation to meet task demands has a mixed effect on performance and workload (reducing both) when the auditory beep automation is used. However, adaptive driving automation is clearly detrimental, iv causing an increase in workload while decreasing performance. Higher levels of Neuroticism are related to poorer threat detection performance, but personality differences show no indication of moderating the effects of either of the experimental manipulations. The results of this study show that the type of automation implemented within an environment has a considerable impact on the operator, in terms of performance as well as cognitive/emotional state


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Graduation Date





Szalma, James


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Sciences



Degree Program

Psychology; Human Factors Psychology








Release Date

May 2015

Length of Campus-only Access

3 years

Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)


Dissertations, Academic -- Sciences, Sciences -- Dissertations, Academic

Included in

Psychology Commons