Interruption Management: The Use of Attention-Directing Tactile Cues

Interruptions in the workplace occur in the context of ongoing task performance. In this article, the authors report on research that focuses on interruptions that come from a secondary task within a multi-task environment. The secondary task is one that does not require continuous attention but does need to be monitored and does require at least occasional action on the part of the operator. The study explored whether attention-directing tactile cues aid or interfere with performance. In the two-group, posttest-only, randomized experiment, 61 participants completed a 30 minute performance session consisting of aircraft-monitoring and gauge-reading computer tasks. Tactile signals (a vibration similar to that of a cellular telephone) were administered to the treatment group to indicate the arrival and location of interrupting tasks. Control participants had to remember to visually check for the interrupting tasks. Results showed that the treatment group responded to more interrupting tasks and responded faster than did the control group. However, groups did not differ on error rates for the interrupting tasks, performance of the primary task, or subjective workload perceptions. The authors conclude that tactile cues may prove useful in directing attention to a noncontinuous secondary task when that task requires attention from the operator.

  • Availability:
  • Authors:
    • Hopp, Pamela J
    • Smith, C AP
    • Clegg, Benjamin A
    • Heggestad, Eric D
  • Publication Date: 2005


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Print
  • Features: Figures; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: pp 1-11
  • Serial:

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01000506
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jun 1 2005 7:46AM