Vigilance, or sustained attention, is the capacity to attend to information for a prolonged period of time (Davies & Parasuraman, 1982; Jerison, 1970; Warm, 1977). Due to limitations of the human nervous system, as well as the environmental context, attention can begin to wane over time. This results in a phenomenon referred to as the vigilance decrement, or a decline in vigilance performance as a function of time. The vigilance decrement can manifest as poorer attention and is thusly associated with poor performance, which is defined behaviorally as more lapses in the detection of critical signals and an increase in response time to these signals during watch. Given this, the present dissertation seeks to systematically examine the impact of two types of motivation (i.e., achievement motivation, autonomous motivation) on vigilance performance across four experiments. The present experiments manipulate information processing type, source complexity, and motivational task demands. Three hundred and ninety-eight participants completed either a cognitive task or sensory task, which were psychophysically equated in previous studies (Szalma & Teo, 2012; Teo, Szalma, & Schmidt, 2011), with or without motivational instructions, and with either low, medium, or high source complexity. Performance measures, perceived stress and workload, and changes to state motivation and engagement at pre-task and post-task are interpreted across three theories of information processing: resource-depletion theory, mind-wandering theory, and mindlessness theory. The results of each of the four studies are discussed in terms of overall support for the resource-depletionist account. The limitations of the present set of experiments and the future directions for research on motivation and sustained attention are also discussed.
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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Sciences
Psychology; Human Factors Cognitive Psychology
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Campus-only Access)
Neigel, Alexis, "Beyond Compliance: Examining the Role of Motivation in Vigilance Performance" (2017). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2004-2019. 5476.