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A Cognitive Approach to Situation Awareness: Theory and Application

A Cognitive Approach to Situation
Awareness: Theory and Application
Edited by Simon Banbury, Cardiff University, UK and
Sébastien Tremblay, Université Laval, Canada
October 2004 234 x 156 mm
376 pages Hardback
978-0-7546-4198-8 £65.00
Includes 46 b&w illustrations
The importance of 'situation awareness' (SA) in assessing and predicting operator competence in complex environments
has become increasingly apparent in recent years. It has been widely established that SA is a contributing factor to many
commercial and military accidents and incidents. Yet determining exactly what constitutes SA is a very difficult task, given
the complexity of the construct itself, and the many different processes involved with its acquisition and maintenance.
This volume brings together recent developments from researchers and practitioners from around the world who are
studying and applying SA from a cognitive perspective. The 41 contributors represent many different theoretical
perspectives, research approaches and domains of application. Each chapter has a primary emphasis around one of three
main topics - theory, measurement and application and examines the considerable inter-linkage between them. To bring
further coherence to the book, all of the contributors received draft manuscripts of those chapters most relevant to their
Designed to be completely international and interdisciplinary, the authors themselves present varied perspectives from
academic departments and industrial organisations from around the world, and from broad applications - with contributions
from researchers in the domains of process control, sport, aviation, transportation, and command and control.
The readership includes practitioners, academics and researchers within human factors, ergonomics and industrial
psychology; Graduate and Undergraduate students specialising within these areas during their final year.
Theory: Defining and modeling Situation Awareness: a critical review, Robert Rousseau, Sébastien Tremblay, Richard
Breton; Correspondence, cognition and sensemaking: a radical empiricist view of Situation Awareness, Sidney Dekker
and Margareta Lützhöft; The concept of the situation in psychology, John Flach, Max Mulder and Marinus M. van
Paassen; A task-oriented perspective of Situation Awareness, John Patrick and Nic James; The role of awareness in
Situation Awareness, Darryl G. Croft, Simon P. Banbury, Laurie T. Butler and Dianne C. Berry; Modeling Situation
Awareness in an organizational context: military command and control, David J. Bryant, Frederick M.J. Lichacz, Justin G.
Hollands and Joseph V. Baranski; A cognitive streaming account of Situation Awareness, Simon P. Banbury, Darryl G.
Croft, William J. Macken and Dylan M. Jones. Application: Spam: the real-time assessment of SA, Frank T. Durso and
Andrew R. Dattel; Drivers' hazard perception ability: situation awareness on the road, Mark S. Horswill and Frank P.
McKenna; Evaluating interruption-based techniques using embedded measures of driving anticipation, Alistair M.
McGowan and Simon P. Banbury; Individual differences in situation awareness for transportation tasks, Leo Gugerty,
Johnell O. Brooks and Craig A. Treadaway; Effects of Situation Awareness training on flight crew performance, Hans-
Jurgen Hörmann, Simon P. Banbury, Helen J. Dudfield, Mike Lodge and Henning Soll; Technology, organization, and
collaborative Situation Awareness in air battle management: historical and theoretical perspectives, Michael A. Vidulich,
Robert S. Bolia and W. Todd Nelson; Infantry situation awareness, Han Tin French, Michael D. Matthews and Elizabeth S.
Redden; Team Situation Awareness as communicative practices, Christer Garbis and Henrik Artman; The role of Situation
Awareness in sport, Nic James and John Patrick; Situation Awareness: progress and directions, Mica R. Endsley; Author
index; Subject index.
About the Editor
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Simon Banbury is currently a Lecturer at the School of Psychology, Cardiff University and a Senior Human Factors
Consultant at the Centre for Human Sciences, QinetiQ, U.K. From 1996 to 2000, he was a Senior Psychologist at the
Defence and Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA), U.K. He received his Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of
Reading in 1996.
Sébastien Tremblay is currently an Assistant Professor at the School of Psychology, Université Laval, Canada. His main
research interests relate to human cognition and performance. Prior to his appointment at Laval, Dr Tremblay held a
postdoctoral fellowship at Cardiff University, funded by DERA, U.K. He holds a Ph.D. in Psychology (1999, Cardiff
University, U.K.)
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... Whether the monitoring and detection of system under normal states or response to abnormal conditions, it is all coordinated by team members (Li et al., 2017a). Furthermore, a feature of team tasks is that the safe completion depends more on the performance of the team than individuals (Banbury and Tremblay, 2004). Previous studies have shown that TSA is positively correlated with team performance (Lin et al., 2010;Kim et al., 2010). ...
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Team situation awareness (TSA) is one of the key factors that affect team decision-making and implementation. TSA is influenced by performance shaping factors (PSFs) in digital nuclear power plants (NPPs). In order to identify the influencing relationships and extent between TSA and PSFs, a model is needed to describe and correlate them. Firstly, based on TSA cognitive process, the main PSFs influencing the level of TSA are identified, including team knowledge and experience level, information display quality, attention and attitude, and team stress level. Then a conceptual model of TSA influencing factors is proposed to explore the path relationships and influencing mechanism between TSA and PSFs, and a structural equation model (SEM) that relates TSA to its PSFs is developed subsequently. Finally, by analyzing human factor events and small deviation reports, data from 178 samples were obtained and substituted into the structural equation model to analyze and identify the relationships between the PSFs. The results show that the preceding PSFs have significant effects on TSA. Based on path coefficients, positive effects were: team knowledge and experience level (0.504), information display quality (0.370), attention and attitude (0.249). Negative effect was: team stress level (−0.384). The results of this study can provide a theoretical basis for the prevention and control of TSA errors, and a qualitative analysis model for the quantitative evaluation of TSA reliability.
... For nuclear power plants with complex industrial system, the monitoring of normal system operation and the successful handling of abnormal conditions are normally performed by the team members together, and the safety of NPPs depends more on the precise performance of team members than on individual performance (Banbury and Tremblay, 2004). When an abnormal situation occurs in a nuclear power plant, to successfully mitigate the accident, the manipulation team needs to collect information, process information, diagnose system status, make decisions, and finally execute decisions (Lee et al., 2008;. ...
Conference Paper
In order to identify the mechanism of team decision-making errors (TDMEs), firstly, the concept of TDMEs is defined, and on the basis of on-site observations and simulation experiments, the team decision-making behaviors in the digital main control room of nuclear power plants (NPPs) are analyzed when facing event of an accident . Then, the specific classifications of behaviors and errors of team decision-making (TDM) are conducted, the contextual factors confronted with TDM are analyzed and classified specifically also. Furthermore, identifying the effects of contextual factors on team decision-making so as to extract the main influencing factors. Finally, the interactions between the influencing factors of TDMEs and their priorities are recognized through Interpretative Structural Modeling(ISM) methods, and a causal conceptual model is developed to reveal the formation mechanism of team decision-making errors(TDMEs), which provides theoretical basis for preventing TDMEs in digital NPPs.
... Driver risk perception ability is closely related to traffic accidents [3,57], and compared to experienced drivers, novice drivers have a poor risk perception ability and are unable to detect potential hazards in a road environment in a timely manner [3]. Evidently, to fundamentally reduce the occurrence of traffic accidents, it is necessary to find ways to improve a driver's risk perception. ...
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Aggressive driving behaviors due to drivers’ underestimation of risks are one of the major causes of traffic accidents. Due to the complexity of factors influencing risk perception, the mechanism of risk underestimation remains unclear. In this study, the theory of planned behavior (TPB) was extended by adding a new variable, namely drivers’ normlessness, forming an extended TPB (ETPB) framework to analyze the factors influencing risk underestimation and the extent of their influence. A total of 376 drivers’ perceived characteristics of risk underestimation were collected through an online survey, and a structural equation model was applied to investigate the effects of normlessness, behavioral attitudes, subjective norm, and perceived behavioral control on the tendency to underestimate the risk. The results showed that the ETPB model can explain the variance in the underestimation risk behavior by 69%; perceptual behavior control, attitude, and subjective norm (in descending order) had significant positive effects on driver’s tendency to underestimate risk; the normlessness variable can directly promote attitude and underestimated risk behavior; drivers with low annual mileage, complete insurance coverage, and no prior accident experience were more likely to underestimate driving risk. The study contributes to understanding of risk perception characteristics and provide theoretical basis for reducing underestimated risk behavior.
... Studies show that the drivers' HPS is a key factor related to unsafe driving and crash involvement (Mcknight and Mcknight, 2003;Fisher, 2006;Pollatsek et al., 2006). On this basis, Banbury and Tremblay (2007) found that drivers' HPS is closely related to traffic driving safety. The findings are supported by Horswill (2016) who mentioned that the inclusion of a hazard-perception test in the UK driver licensing process reduced drivers' high-speed road crash rate by 11.3%. ...
A good visual search mode is an important prerequisite for a driver to perceive the hazard in the traffic environment timely and accurately. However, hypoxia conditions in the plateau environment might affect drivers' cognitive and judgment ability, posing potential threats to safe driving. This study analyzed the eye movement behaviors of drivers when faced with traffic hazards in the plateau environment, to examine the impact level of altitude on drivers’ perception and reaction. Nine typical traffic hazard scenarios were investigated at four locations with four different altitudes, including Linzhi, Lhasa, Naqu, and Yanghu Scenic Area based on UC-WIN / ROAD driving simulation software. Then, drivers’ visual search modes were analyzed according to drivers’ eye movement data collected by ASL Mobile Eye monocular eye tracker. As the altitude increased, the drivers’ first fixation time and the average saccade amplitude decreased, while the fixation duration percentage increased. Drivers with fewer years of driving experience had a larger percentage of fixation duration and a smaller saccade amplitude. In addition, a shorter acclimation period also negatively influenced the percentage of fixation time. The increase of altitude would weaken the drivers' visual sensitivity and cognitive processing ability of hazard information, which would reduce drivers' hazard perception skills, and the increase of driving experience might help alleviate such negative impacts to some extent. Based on the visual characteristics of traffic hazard scenarios obtained in this paper, the training of highly accident-prone drivers can be guided specifically to improve their visual search strategies, thereby improving driving safety.
... For complex systems, ISA is important, but its performance depends more on communication, information sharing, and cooperation among team members. Research showed that achieving and maintaining TSA were a prerequisite for improving system performance (Banbury and Tremblay 2017). Salas et al. (1995) defined TSA as the result of recurrent processes of information seeking, information processing, and information sharing. ...
Full-text available
It is increasingly being recognized that the flight crew’s team situation awareness (TSA) is essential for flight safety. To explore the inherent correlation and hierarchical structure of the flight crew’s TSA, 21 influencing factors were extracted from individuals, flight crew, equipment, environment, management, and task perspectives based on the Delphi Method and flight accident investigation. By absorbing the advantages of Decision Making Trial and Evaluation (DEMATEL) and Interpretive Structure Modeling (ISM), the influencing degree, the influenced degree, the centrality, and the causality of each influencing factor were calculated to find out the key factors and the cause-and-effect relationship; a multi-level hierarchical model was established for analyzing the interaction mechanism of the flight crew’s TSA. The results show: (i) for the formation and maintenance of the flight crew’s TSA, among the 21 influencing factors, task property, safety consciousness, workload, communication, coordination, physiological, and mental state are the most important influencing factors; (ii) the multi-level hierarchical model is divided into five layers and reflects the function pathway. Attention, memory, and safety consciousness are the direct causes of the failure of the flight crew’s TSA. Regulatory policy, safety culture, and training can be considered upon as the deepest and fundamental influencing factors affecting the flight crew’s TSA; (iii) the mutual influencing degree of elements and the cause-and-effect relationship are quantificationally presented to better reveal the inherent correlation. This study provides a workable reference for analyzing the flight crew’s TSA and offers a novel decision-making approach to support better flight safety management by priority actions.
Research into real-time simulation applications outside of manufacturing environments has extended to sociotechnical systems such as healthcare over the past decade, where a number of published studies have demonstrated proof-of-concept models for near-future resource planning. Using real-time decision-support systems, people take decisions supported by the output of simulations. However real-time simulation frameworks abstract human intervention to an “external decision-maker,” with little regard to the complexities of underlying decision-making constructs, and how design and development decisions can impact the quality of decision-support. One such construct is situation awareness (SA), which is a precursor to decision-making. It is a dynamic state of knowledge about how a situation is unfolding; one approach to enhancing situation awareness is the provision of appropriate real-time information. We argue that design, development and implementation decisions should be focused at the interface between decision-making and decision-support. This integrative literature review proposes a SA framework integrating models of SA with a technical perspective for real-time simulation, to support an understanding of the cognitive needs of users alongside technical details during the development process. The implications for the usefulness and usability of real-time decision-support tools are discussed with application to Emergency Departments.
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The drivers’ hazard perception plays an important role in preventing and reducing the occurrence of traffic accidents. In order to explore the drivers’ hazard perception and their behavioral characteristics in overt and covert hazards, hazardous events of three traffic conflict types (vehicle to vehicle, vehicle to cyclist and vehicle to pedestrian) were designed for overt and covert hazards based on the UC-win/Road driving simulation software, respectively. 35 drivers were organized to conduct the driving simulation tests. The data of driving behavior was collected when they were driving. A comparative analysis of drivers’ hazard perception ability and driving behavior characteristics was carried out for hazardous scenarios and traffic conflict types. The result has shown that drivers are more likely to take slowing measures or brake earlier in overt hazard scenarios to ensure safe driving. And drivers are more likely to be involved in collisions in covert hazard scenarios. The types of traffic conflict have a significant effect on the hazard perception ability of drivers (F = 5.92, p < 0.01). Drivers have the strongest hazard perception for cyclists and the weakest hazard perception for pedestrians. Traffic conflict types has a significant effect on drivers’ average braking depth (F = 32.31, p < 0.01), average speed (F = 13.78, p < 0.01), and average acceleration (F = 9.26, p < 0.01).
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Situation awareness (SA) is a widely used cognitive construct in human factors, often theoretically posited to be a critical causal factor and/or construct for performance. However, there are concerns that SA may not sufficiently capture the psychological processes underlying performance. We address these conflicting perspectives using meta-analysis to evaluate the patterns of associations among SA-performance effect sizes. Specifically, we focus on the validity of SA for performance—how well SA captures the relevant psychological processes for task performance. In our systematic review of the empirical literature, we coded associations of ten unique measures of SA with performance: 678 effects from 77 papers. The meta-analytic means for SA measures were all of approximately medium or lower effect sizes. The overall mean effect, while significant, was also limited in magnitude (r = 0.26, p < 0.001). Furthermore, there was high unexplained systematic variation with an enormous plausible range for individual effects (r = −0.15 to 0.60). The results indicate that SA’s validity for performance tends to be, on average, weak with large variations among effects. Interventions that improve SA may not correspond to meaningful improvements in task performance, and it may be appropriate to revise major theories of SA. Supplemental data for this article is available online at
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