The Effects of Mental Workload: Soldier Shooting and

Report No. ARL-TR-2525
Authors: David R. Scribner and William H. Harper
Date/Pages: September 2001; 88 pages
Abstract: The dismounted Soldier of the future will be "loaded" with more information processing tasks while performing shooting tasks. It is imperative that the Soldier not be overburdened mentally to preserve maximal survivability and lethality. The present study proposed the examination of the ability of the Soldier or Marine to perform various cognitive tasks like decision-making, mental calculations, and a memory recall task while engaged in friend-or-foe shoot-dont shoot scenarios. The secondary tasks consisted of mathematical problem solving and situational awareness (SA) memory reca ll tasks. Participants were 16 U.S. Marines whose ages ranged from 18 to 25 years. The friendly and enemy target set in each trial was a 24-target scenario that used friendly (white circular marking on the chest of the target) and enemy (olive drab green) E-type silhouette targets. Half of the targets were friendly and half were enemy. Ranges consisted of 50, 100, 150, 200, 250, and 300 meters and all target exposure times were 4 seconds. Analysis of variance analyses revealed significant differences for both math and SA tasks during shooting versus non-shooting (baseline) conditions. Additionally, multiple regression analyses yielded significant regression models for predicting performance, workload ratings, and stress ratings under certain conditions.
Distribution: Approved for public release
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Last Update / Reviewed: September 1, 2001