Physiological, Subjective, and Performance Correlates of Reported Boredom and Monotony while Performing a Simulated Radar Control Task
FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION WASHINGTON DC OFFICE OF AVIATION MEDICINE
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Forty-five male subjects performed a simulated air traffic control radar task for 1 hour. Subjects were equally divided into three time-of-day groups and tested at 1000, 1300, and 1530. The subjects task was to respond as rapidly as possible to infrequent changes in alphanumeric symbols. Physiological recordings of blood pressure, oral temperature, skin conductance, body movement, heart rate and heart-rate variability, and performance measures of mean response latency and variability of response latencies were obtained. In addition, subjects rated their levels of boredom, monotony, irritation, attentiveness, fatigue, and strain at the beginning and end of the session. There were no differences between any of the time-of-day groups except in oral temperature, which was significantly higher in the afternoon than in the morning. Two extreme groups of eight subjects each were formed on the basis of their rated boredom and monotony and compared with respect to changes in each of the measures during the task period. The two groups differed significantly on several measures, with the high boredom-monotony group showing greater increases in long response times, heart-rate variability, and strain along with a greater decrease in attentiveness. The nature of the pattern associated with boredom and monotony suggests a pattern more closely related to attentional processes than to arousal. The extreme groups did not differ on the Eysenck Extraversion Scale or the Zuckerman General Sensation Seeking and Boredom Susceptibility Scales. Possible reasons for the lack of relationship with these scales are discussed.