Operator Stress and Display Design


Hancock, P.A., & Szalma, J.L. (2003). Operator stress and display design. Ergonomics in Design11(2), 13-18.

These design guidelines, based on knowledge of how operators perform under time and task pressure, can lead to better decision making in emergencies.

What is the best approach to attack the problem of designing for stressed operators? If consistent and informative principles already existed, one might be able to answer this question at an overall system design level. However, the present state of affairs debars this high level of analysis because the basic knowledge is not yet well articulated. In this case, one needs first to consider how individual operators react to high-stress and high-workload conditions. Fortunately, there is some useful information regarding theses forms of behavioral response (see Hancock & Desmodn, 2001). It is known, for example, that extremes of stress affect sensory and perceptual capacities, which results first in a diminution and then a failure of information assimilation. Such degradation denies the subsequent opportunity to engage in the appropriate decision-making and response execution.

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