Effects of Redundant Alerts on Platoon Leader Performance and Decision Making

Report No. ARL-TR-3999
Authors: Andrea S. Krausman; Rodger A. Pettitt; Linda R. Elliott
Date/Pages: April 2007; 55 pages
Abstract: Future U.S. Army capabilities, coupled with network-centric warfare concepts, will enable huge advancements in information distribution and display and will provide a combat advantage. However, conveying information in a manner that enhances Soldiers? ability to manage the information and in turn, increases their situational awareness is problematic, especially when we consider the high operational tempo, uncertainty, and stress of combat. Past research suggests that multi-sensory information display may be an effective technique for enhancing the information management and situational understanding of Soldiers. Moreover, using a redundant combination of display modalities may be an effective method of information presentation. A study was conducted to examine the effects of redundant alerts on platoon leader decision making and performance. Eleven platoon leaders completed three simulated missions. During each mission, participants received tactical communications and monitored activity on their displays. Tactical communications were accomplished via digital messaging and voice commands. Some of the digital messages were preceded by a visual, visual + auditory, or visual + tactile alert. Time to respond to each of the digital messages was measured. The results indicate that when a platoon leader is engaged in visually demanding tasks such as scanning displays, response time can be as much as 63% slower for a single visual alert, compared to the redundant alerts. Subjective data indicated that participants thought the visual + auditory and visual + tactile alerts were more effective at getting their attention than the visual alert alone. Applications of this research include the development of display design guidelines that will transition to FCS equipment developers.
Distribution: Approved for public release
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Last Update / Reviewed: April 1, 2007