THE USE OF TRACKING TASKS AS INDICATORS OF STRESS
MARYLAND UNIV COLLEGE PARK INST FOR BEHAVIORAL RESEARCH
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This is the first progress report on a pilot study to determine whether certain tracking tasks can be used as accurate indicators of the stresses on human beings. It was found that if a human operator is asked to return an indicator to a fixed position by moving a control stick, the indicator deflection being, for instance, the second integral of the control stick displacement, then the response is a continuous oscillation about the null position. The error can only be due to the man himself, and under suitable conditions will be in fixed ratio to the stick input. It is known that stress will cause degradation of operator performance so stresses can be directly compared numerically by comparing error ratios. Analog computation equipment has been assembled which gives a direct readout of the mean modular error, and great care was taken to eliminate drift and zero errors. Preliminary experiments are described which show the effects of alcohol, of long continuous runs and of fatigue. Results show that the equipment is effective and simple to use, that most persons have similar errors, that abnormal people are easily detected, and that the stresses listed do cause noticeable changes in performance.
- Human Factors Engineering and Man Machine Systems