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Seeing the woods for the trees: the problem of information inefficiency and information overload on operator performance

Lookup NU author(s): Dr David GolightlyORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2017, The Author(s). One of the recurring questions in designing dynamic control environments is whether providing more information leads to better operational decisions. The idea of having every piece of information is increasingly tempting (and in safety critical domains often mandatory) but has become a potential obstacle for designers and operators. The present research study examined this challenge of appropriate information design and usability within a railway control setting. A laboratory study was conducted to investigate the presentation of different levels of information (taken from data processing framework, Dadashi et al. in Ergonomics 57(3):387–402, 2014) and the association with, and potential prediction of, the performance of a human operator when completing a cognitively demanding problem-solving scenario within railways. Results indicated that presenting users only with information corresponding to their cognitive task, and in the absence of other, non task-relevant information, improves the performance of their problem-solving/alarm handling. Knowing the key features of interest to various agents (machine or human) and using the data processing framework to guide the optimal level of information required by each of these agents could potentially lead to safer and more usable designs.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Dadashi N, Golightly D, Sharples S

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Cognition, Technology and Work

Year: 2017

Volume: 19

Issue: 4

Pages: 561-570

Print publication date: 01/11/2017

Online publication date: 23/11/2017

Acceptance date: 17/11/2017

Date deposited: 05/07/2019

ISSN (print): 1435-5558

ISSN (electronic): 1435-5566

Publisher: Springer London


DOI: 10.1007/s10111-017-0451-1


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