The Cognitive Organization of Submarine Sonar Information: A multidimensional Scaling Analysis
NAVAL SUBMARINE MEDICAL RESEARCH LAB GROTON CT
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Present hardware makes it possible to display any or all sonar information at the submarine CONN, from raw auditory data to refined visual displays of predicted ships positions, but two important considerations may dictate that less information be provided than is technologically possible. One of these is financial. The other, which this research begins to address, is the amount of information the Conning Officer can effectively process, since it is well established that performance can be degraded as severely by too much, or inappropriate, information, as by too little. This study was conducted to identify those pieces of sonar information that are perceived by the submarine Conning Officer to be most useful in the operation of own ship. Ninety-five Submarine Officers, with varying amounts of at-sea experience performed two related tasks. In the first, 15 categories of sonar information were sorted according to similarity. In the second task, these categories were rank ordered according to importance at the CONN. A multidimensional scaling analysis showed that the officers organize sonar information in two dimensions, related to Information Source and Information Destination. Data from the rank order task indicated that most importance was attached to the information at the extremes of these dimensions. The most important information included sonar contacts summary data, own ship information, raw visual sonar displays, and ocean acoustic parameters.