Attentional narrowing - the involuntary restriction of attention to a small set of data or one task/goal - is a major concern in many complex, high-risk domains. Research into this phenomenon is much needed but hampered by the difficulty of inducing it reliably in a controlled experimental setting. The present study tested the effectiveness of loud noise and high task demand for achieving this goal. Seven participants performed a visual search task in the context of a simplified air traffic control simulation. Performance and eye tracking data were recorded. Eye tracking metrics showed a narrowing of participants’ visual attentional field under high demand; however, noise did not have a significant effect on attention allocation. The findings from this study represent an important step towards controlled studies of attentional narrowing. They also highlight the promise of eye tracking for detecting, in real time, breakdowns in attentional processes.
& Sarter, N.
(2015). Attentional Narrowing: a First Step Towards Controlled Studies of a Threat to Aviation Safety. 18th International Symposium on Aviation Psychology, 189-194.