Effects of working memory, attention, and expertise on pilots’ situation awareness

Çak, Serkan
Situation Awareness (SA), is defined as perception of environmental entities, comprehension of their meaning, and estimation of their status in the near future (Endsley, 1995a). The general aim of the study is to investigate the relationship between SA and individual cognitive di erences. Specifically, the predictive value of working memory and attentional capacity measures on SA measures, taken from pilots of different expertise levels, is of interest. In the literature, SA has mostly been studied from an applied perspective. The present study therefore aims at providing the necessary cognitive underpinnings of these more applied studies. Two experiments were conducted. In Experiment 1, individual di erences and SA measures have been taken from thirty-six pilots. Automated Operation Span, Stroop Task, and Choice Reaction Time Task with Dichotic Listening were used for measuring working memory capacity (WMC), inhibition, and divided attention, respectively. Online and offline SA measurements were employed together for tapping on different aspects of SA in a cognitively demanding flight scenario. Results showed that WMC and expertise explain 58% of variability in offline scores while inhibition, divided attention, and expertise explain 52% of variability in online scores. In Experiment 2, the aim was to find correlates of eye movements in terms of individual differences. Scan patterns were studied across four SA-related visual tasks with ten expert pilots. Results showed that more expert pilots produced less fixation durations but no other e ects of individual di erences on the eye movements were observed. It was also observed that expert pilots deploy some scan strategies while performing these tasks.