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Influencing cognitive strategy by manipulating information access

Waldron, Samuel M; Morgan, Phillip; King, Sophia L; Patrick, John


Samuel M Waldron

Sophia L King

John Patrick


Recent developments in technology have meant that operators of complex systems, such as those found in the modern aircraft cockpit, now have access to an unprecedented volume of information. Significant focus within computer science and engineering has therefore been placed upon developing methods by which task-relevant information can be made as accessible as possible within the interface, thus reducing operator workload - a goal of traditional human factors approaches to interface design. Recent theoretical perspectives of adaptive human cognition [Gray, W.D. and Fu, W.-T]. (2004). Soft constraints in interactive behaviour: the case of ignoring perfect knowledge in the world for imperfect knowledge in the head. Cogn. Sci., 28, 359-383] suggest that there is a delicate balance and a series of trade-offs between information access at the interface and resulting human interactive behaviour. A distinction has been drawn between display- and memory-based strategies. Two experiments are reported that investigated the relationship between information access and the selection of cognitive strategy, particularly the effect on learning and memory. Experiment 1 varied the cost of accessing information in a routine copying task, and found that higher access costs (e.g. mouse movement plus 1-s delay) led to the adoption of a memory-based strategy, and better retention of visual-spatial information. Experiment 2 manipulated the availability of fused information in a low-fidelity flight simulation task. Temporarily removing onscreen information similarly improved recall of site location information. The potential benefits are discussed of a novel approach to display design that manipulates information access depending on task performance criteria. © The Author 2007. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The British Computer Society. All rights reserved.


King, S., Morgan, P. L., Waldron, S. M., Waldron, S. M., Patrick, J., Morgan, P., & King, S. L. (2007). Influencing cognitive strategy by manipulating information access. Computer Journal, 50(6), 694-702.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Nov 1, 2007
Journal Computer Journal
Print ISSN 0010-4620
Electronic ISSN 1460-2067
Publisher Oxford University Press (OUP)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 50
Issue 6
Pages 694-702
Keywords memory-based strategy, task performance criteria, human interactive behaviour, adaptive cognition, soft constraints hypothesis
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