Cardiff Metropolitan University
attentional costs and failures in air traffic control notifications-Hodgetts H.pdf (845.54 kB)

Attentional costs and failures in air traffic control notifications

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posted on 2022-04-08, 15:26 authored by Jean-Paul Imbert, Helen Hodgetts, Robert Parise, François Vachon, Frederic Dehais, Sébastien Tremblay

 Large display screens are common in supervisory tasks, meaning that alerts are often perceived in peripheral vision. Five air traffic control notification designs were evaluated in their ability to capture attention during an ongoing supervisory task, as well as their impact on the primary task. A range of performance measures, eye-tracking and subjective reports showed that colour, even animated, was less effective than movement, and notifications sometimes went unnoticed. Designs that drew attention to the notified aircraft by a pulsating box, concentric circles or the opacity of the background resulted in faster perception and no missed notifications. However, the latter two designs were intrusive and impaired primary task performance, while the simpler animated box captured attention without an overhead cognitive cost. These results highlight the need for a holistic approach to evaluation, achieving a balance between the benefits for one aspect of performance against the potential costs for another. Practitioner summary: We performed a holistic examination of air traffic control notification designs regarding their ability to capture attention during an ongoing supervisory task. The combination of performance, eye-tracking and subjective measurements demonstrated that the best design achieved a balance between attentional power and the overhead cognitive cost to primary task performance. 


Published in



Taylor & Francis


  • AM (Accepted Manuscript)


Imbert, J.P., Hodgetts, H.M., Parise, R., Vachon, F., Dehais, F. and Tremblay, S. (2014) 'Attentional costs and failures in air traffic control notifications', Ergonomics, 57(12), pp.1817-1832

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Cardiff Met Affiliation

  • Cardiff School of Sport and Health Sciences

Cardiff Met Authors

Helen Hodgetts

Cardiff Met Research Centre/Group

  • Applied Psychology and Behaviour Change

Copyright Holder

  • © The Publisher


  • en

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