Vigilance tasks typically require observers to respond to critical signals on their monitored displays and withhold responding to neutral events. The Sustained Attention to Response Task (SART) features the opposite response requirements which supposedly lead it to promote a mindless, non-thoughtful approach to the vigilance task that lacks attentional focus. To test that possibility, this study compared the SART to the standard vigilance task in terms of perceived mental workload – indexed by the Multiple Resource Questionnaire (MRQ) – and eye tracking activity – reflected via the Nearest Neighbor Index (NNI) – in the performance of a simulated air-traffic control assignment. Observers with both types of tasks identified a subset of identical MRQ dimensions as being highly involved in their monitoring assignment. The NNI scores indicated that observers with both types of tasks experienced higher workload than controls who viewed the display without a work imperative. Evidently, the SART does not promote mindlessness in vigilance performance.
Boles, D. B.,
Warm, J. S.,
Knott, B. A.,
& Parasuraman, R.
(2011). The SART Task Does Not Promote Mindlessness in Vigilance Performance. 16th International Symposium on Aviation Psychology, 309-314.