Effects of Aircraft Noise on Vigilance Performance and Perceived Workload

Becker, A. B., Warm, J. S., Dember, W. N., Sparnall, J., & DeRonde, L. (1992, October). Effects of Aircraft Noise on Vigilance Performance and Perceived Workload. In Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting (Vol. 36, No. 18, pp. 1513-1517). SAGE Publications.

This study examined the effects of exposure to intermittent jet aircraft noise played through stereophonic speakers (70dBA or 95dBA maximum intensity) on performance efficiency and perceived workload in a 40-min visual vigilance task. The noise featured a Doppler-like quality in which planes seemed to approach from the monitor’s left and recede to the right. Performance in noise, measured in terms of perceptual sensitivity (d’), was significantly poorer than in a quiet condition. Moreover, in comparison to subjects performing in quiet, those who operated in noise were less able to profit from knowledge of results (KR) regarding performance efficiency. In addition to its negative effect upon signal detectability, noise significantly elevated perceived workload, as indexed by the NASA-TLX. This effect was robust; it was not mitigated by KR, even though KR served generally to reduce the overall level of perceived workload in the study. The consistency of the effect of noise in regard to both performance efficiency and perceived workload challenges a recent conclusion offered by Koelega and Brinkman (1986) that lawful relations are not observable in studies of the effects of nose on vigilant behavior.

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