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ERIC Number: EJ919601
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Mar
Pages: 11
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 52
ISSN: ISSN-1076-898X
Prospective Memory in an Air Traffic Control Simulation: External Aids that Signal when to Act
Loft, Shayne; Smith, Rebekah E.; Bhaskara, Adella
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, v17 n1 p60-70 Mar 2011
At work and in our personal life we often need to remember to perform intended actions at some point in the future, referred to as Prospective Memory. Individuals sometimes forget to perform intentions in safety-critical work contexts. Holding intentions can also interfere with ongoing tasks. We applied theories and methods from the experimental literature to test the effectiveness of external aids in reducing prospective memory error and costs to ongoing tasks in an air traffic control simulation. Participants were trained to accept and hand-off aircraft and to detect aircraft conflicts. For the prospective memory task, participants were required to substitute alternative actions for routine actions when accepting target aircraft. Across two experiments, external display aids were provided that presented the details of target aircraft and associated intended actions. We predicted that aids would only be effective if they provided information that was diagnostic of target occurrence, and in this study, we examined the utility of aids that directly cued participants when to allocate attention to the prospective memory task. When aids were set to flash when the prospective memory target aircraft needed to be accepted, prospective memory error and costs to ongoing tasks of aircraft acceptance and conflict detection were reduced. In contrast, aids that did not alert participants specifically when the target aircraft were present provided no advantage compared to when no aids were used. These findings have practical implications for the potential relative utility of automated external aids for occupations where individuals monitor multi-item dynamic displays. (Contains 2 footnotes, 1 table, and 1 figure.)
American Psychological Association. Journals Department, 750 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20002-4242. Tel: 800-374-2721; Tel: 202-336-5510; Fax: 202-336-5502; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Australia