The negative effects of task monotony and sensation seeking tendencies on sustained attention
Michael, Rebecca L. & Meuter, Renata (2007) The negative effects of task monotony and sensation seeking tendencies on sustained attention. In European Society for Cognitive Psychology (ESCoP) XV Conference, 29th August - 1st September 2007, Marseille, France. (Unpublished)
Vigilance tasks are by their very nature monotonous, yet the effect of monotony is typically not explored in isolation. Often, task monotony is confounded with fatigue, and monotony of task and environment are not distinguished. We examined the differential effect of task monotony - independent of fatigue – on sustained attention using a short (<5min) vigilance task, and explored the role of sensation seeking tendencies, degree of extraversion and the propensity towards cognitive failures in moderating performance. Task monotony, and therefore also task demand, was manipulated by varying target stimulus probability (p(monotonous) = 0.11 vs, p(non-monotonous) = 0.50). Continuous responses were required to all but the target stimuli. Performance was significantly worse in the monotonous task. Importantly, high sensation seekers performed far worse on vigilance tasks characterised by low task demand. These findings have implications for real world tasks involving sustained attention, with task monotony affecting performance independently of fatigue.
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