Effects of Jet Engine Noise And Performance Feedback on Perceived Workload in a Monitoring Task

Becker, A.B., Warm, J.S., Dember, W.N., & Hancock, P.A. (1995). Effects of jet engine noise and performance feedback on perceived workload in a monitoring task. International Journal of Aviation Psychology, 5(1), 49-62.

This study examined the effects of exposure to intermittent jet aircraft noise (70 dBA or 95 dBA maximum intensity) and knowledge of results concerning signal detections (hit-KR) 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. Perceptual sensitivity (d)was poorer in the context of noise than in quiet but only in the presence of hit-KR. The lack of noise-related performance differences in the absence of hit-KR most likely reflected a “floor effect” rather than some special relation between noise and feedback. When compared to subjects performing in quiet, those who operated in noise were less able to profit from hit-KR, a result that may reflect the effects of noise on information processing. In addition to its negative effects on signal detectability, noise elevated the perceived workload, as measured by the NASA-TLX. This effect was robust; it was independent of the presence of hit-KR, even though hit-KR generally lowered the overall level of perceived workload. The results provide the initial experimental demonstration that perceived workload is a sensitive measure of the effects of aircraft noise in monitoring tasks.

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