Publication Date


Document Type


Committee Members

Assaf Harel, Ph.D. (Committee Chair); Ion Juvina, Ph.D. (Committee Member); Gregory Funke, Ph.D. (Committee Member)

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


This study examines the effects of automation on the human user of that automation. Automation has been shown to produce a variety of benefits to employees in terms of performance and a reduction of workload, but research in this area indicates that this might be at the cost of situational awareness. This loss of situational awareness is thought to lead to “out-of-the-loop” performance effects. One way this set of effects has been explained is through the “lumberjack” analogy, which suggests these effects are related to degree of automation and automation failure. This study recreates the effects of automation on mental workload, performance, and situational awareness by altering the characteristics of automation in a UAV supervisory control environment; RESCHU was chosen because of its complexity and the ability to manipulate levels of control within the task. Afterwards, it will be discussed whether the effects align with the predictions of the lumberjack analogy. Participants were assigned to one of two automation reliability groups, routine or failure, and all participants experienced all three degrees of automation – manual/low, medium, and high. Scores collected for mental workload, situational awareness, and performance were compared across groups and conditions. Results indicated differences in performance for both degree of automation and reliability, but no interaction. There was also a main effect of degree of automation on raw NASA-TLX scores, with a few main effects reported for individual subscales.

Page Count


Department or Program

Department of Psychology

Year Degree Awarded


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.