Physiological measurement of anxiety to evaluate performance in simulation training

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G. Tichon, Jennifer
Wallis, Guy
Riek, Stephan
Mavin, Timothy
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2014
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Abstract

The ability to control emotion is a skill which contributes to performance in the same way as cognitive and technical skills do to the successful completion of high stress operations. The interdependence between emotion, problem-solving and decision-making makes a negative emotion such as anxiety of interest in evaluating trainee performance in simulations which replicate stressful work conditions. Self-report measures of anxiety require trainees to interrupt the simulation experience to either complete psychological scales or make verbal reports of state anxiety. An uninterrupted, continuous measure of anxiety is, therefore, preferable for simulation environments. During this study, the anxiety levels of trainee pilots were tracked via electromyography, eye movements and pupillometry while undertaking required tasks in a flight simulation. Fixation duration and saccade rate corresponded reliably to pilot self-reports of anxiety, while pupil size and saccade amplitude did not show a strong comparison to changes in affective state. Large increases in muscle activation where recorded when higher anxiety was reported. The results suggest that a combination of physiological measures could provide a robust, continuous indicator of anxiety level. The implications of the current study on further development of physiological measures to support tracking anxiety as a tool for simulation training assessment are discussed.

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Cognition, Technology & Work
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© 2014 Springer London. This is an electronic version of an article published in Cognition, Technology & Work, May 2014, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 203-210. Cognition, Technology & Work is available online at: http://link.springer.com/ with the open URL of your article.
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Information systems
Vocational education and training curriculum and pedagogy
Sensory processes, perception and performance
Cognitive and computational psychology
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