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Interface changes generating accidents. A schema-based approach of negative transfer

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Denis Besnard



When expert operators interact with a new device, they inevitably reuse former interaction modes and actions. This phenomenon is due to the human cognition seeking resources savings. Schemas support this strategy and are implemented in such a way that perfection is disregarded at the profit of an intuitive trade-off between performance and cognitive resources savings. As a consequence, humans have a strong inclination to fit well-known solution procedures into new problems. For this reason, changes in work environments can cause accidents when they allow operators to erroneously interact with a new device if the latter is perceived as familiar. This research issue originates from an industrial background. The suspected cause of a fatal error performed by an operator in a steelworks factory is replicated in a simple experiment. The results support the hypothesis according to which errors (and eventually accidents) due to changes are more likely when the latter do not inhibit irrelevant former interaction modes. This main result is discussed under the angle of cognitive psychology.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Cacitti L, Besnard D

Publication type: Report

Publication status: Published

Series Title: Department of Computing Science Technical Report Series

Year: 2002

Pages: 15

Print publication date: 01/11/2002

Source Publication Date: November 2002

Report Number: 784

Institution: Department of Computing Science, University of Newcastle upon Tyne

Place Published: Newcastle upon Tyne