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Measuring the Mind: Speed, control, and age$
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John Duncan, Louise Phillips, and Peter McLeod

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780198566427

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198566427.001.0001

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Operator functional state: the prediction of breakdown in human performance

Operator functional state: the prediction of breakdown in human performance

(p.373) Chapter 16 Operator functional state: the prediction of breakdown in human performance
Measuring the Mind: Speed, control, and age

G. Robert J. Hockey

Oxford University Press

The problem of predicting increased risk and skill breakdown is a major issue in complex work environments. This chapter examines this through the application of an operator functional-state framework, based on assessment of the cognitive-energetical potential for sustained performance in skilled operators in relation to task goals and priorities. Maintenance of primary task outputs requires the operation of a compensatory process that acts to protect vulnerable cognitive goals from competition, particularly from emotional and biological goals. While primary performance goals are typically maintained under stress, the presence of compensatory activity means that there are often decrements in secondary or auxiliary components of performance, and markers of strain. These ‘latent decrements’ are likely to have implications for breakdown in primary performance, especially if it can be established that the compensatory process is near its limit.

Keywords:   operator functional state, cognitive-energetical potential, primary performance goals, performance breakdown

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