Publication Date


Document Type


Committee Members

Herbert Colle (Committee Member), Allen Nagy (Committee Member), Valerie Shalin (Committee Chair), Debra Steele-Johnson (Committee Member)

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


The current study addressed the function of representing constraints in a display that is used for the process of planning on a team level. The experimental task was a modification of a game entitled 10 Days in Africa in which the players must complete a journey through the continent of Africa. Dyads participated in the game by constructing their own planning representations, as well as collaborating with the other player. We augmented the standard Gantt chart representation of timeline events with representations for the constraints holding between adjacent events. To examine the function of constraint representation in planning, we examined the effect of two different types of representations, Color and Text. Both representations should suffice if the function is simply to bring the constraint closer to the elements it constrains (Zhang & Norman, 1994). On the other hand, Color functions as a perceptual feature that is effective without attentional resources, and could serve to organize the planning process automatically, whereas Text requires attentional resources to influence the planning process. The role of Text should therefore depend on planning strategy. Manipulation of low level cognitive properties of representing constraints (Color and Text) occurred within the planning representation itself or in a supplementary map. We found that representing constraints in general affected both performance as well as planning strategies. Color resulted in generally improved performance. Color functions as a feature that facilitates performance by allowing for emergent properties and chunking. However, when constraints were represented via Text, Males and Females employed different strategies, with Females demonstrating an increased tendency to be opportunistic. These results show that that the type of representation is relevant to the effect of proximity in the representation of constraints for planning.

Page Count


Department or Program

Department of Psychology

Year Degree Awarded