Publication Date


Document Type


Committee Members

Kevin Bennett (Committee Member), John Flach (Advisor), Benjamin Knott (Committee Member), W. Todd Nelson (Committee Member), Valerie Shalin (Committee Member)

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Military command and control (C2) teams are often faced with difficult, complex, and distributed operations amidst the fog and friction of war. To deal with this uncertainty, teams rely on clear and effective communication to coordinate their actions; two current conduits for communication in distributed military teams include voice and chat. Chat communication is regarded by many in the C2 world as the premier method of communicating with the power to lessen some of the traffic and disturbances of current voice communication, and its usage continues to exponentially increase. Despite this operational view, countless laboratory studies have demonstrated detrimental effects of chat communication relative to voice communication. The current study investigates the gap between laboratory research results and usage in complex environments, and empirically tests the effect that chat communication has on tactical C2 performance through an air battle management synthetic task environment. Results demonstrate that participants performed better on time-critical, emergent events with voice communication and better on preplanned missions when they had access to archival information. Voice communication is a valuable, high bandwidth channel that is essential for coordination in highly complex situations, while chat communication is a nonintrusive form of communication that allows the operator flexibility in prioritizing the information flow through the use of archival information. The challenge in operational settings with overcrowded radio channels, however, is to protect the voice channel to ensure it is available when the situation demands it. With careful implementation, voice and chat communication can be complementary technologies to facilitate complex work.

Page Count


Department or Program

Department of Psychology

Year Degree Awarded