Effects of Cue Reliability on Target Detection and Visual Scanning

Report No. ARL-TR-5410
Authors: Timothy L. White and James A. Davis
Date/Pages: December 2010; 40 pages
Abstract: Past research has indicated that automated target acquisition systems augment target detection in a way that facilitates faster detection times and increased target detection. However, in real-world applications, such target acquisition systems provide imperfect target classification and are prone to false positive and false negative errors when attempting to identify targets in operational environments. Furthermore, past research indicates a direct relationship between the reliability of the target acquisition system and performance on the target detection task. Few studies address the effect of cue format and target salience on task performance with respect to reliability level. This experiment examined the effect of four reliability levels on task performance (0% reliability or baseline, 60% reliability, 75% reliability, and 90% reliability) and highlighted the importance of cueing context on cueing effectiveness. For this experiment, the salience of the cues paired with a nonconducive cue format produced an inverse relationship between reliability and task performance. Overdependence on these cues resulted in target detection times that actually increased with increasing reliability. Results from this experiment also showed that even infrequent audio tones (as seen in the 60% reliability condition) could potentially increase operator awareness. These results provide invaluable information regarding the contextual importance of target detection cues and importance of cue format for target acquisition systems in operational environments.
Distribution: Approved for public release
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Last Update / Reviewed: December 1, 2010