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PUBLISHED: The effect of individual differences in working memory in older adults on performance with different degrees of automated technology

July 13, 2016

Our latest research is published and available here: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00140139.2016.1189599

Pak, R., McLaughlin, A. C., Leidheiser, W., & Rovira, E. (2016). The effect of individual differences in working memory in older adults on performance with different degrees of automated technology. Ergonomics. http://doi.org/10.1080/00140139.2016.1189599

ABSTRACT

A leading hypothesis to explain older adults’ overdependence on automation is age-related declines in working memory. However, it has not been empirically examined. The purpose of the current experiment was to examine how working memory affected performance with different degrees of automation in older adults. In contrast to the well-supported idea that higher degrees of automation, when the automation is correct, benefits performance but higher degrees of automation, when the automation fails, increasingly harms performance, older adults benefited from higher degrees of automation when the automation was correct but were not differentially harmed by automation failures. Surprisingly, working memory did not interact with degree of automation but did interact with automation correctness or failure. When automation was correct, older adults with higher working memory ability had better performance than those with lower abilities. But when automation was incorrect, all older adults, regardless of working memory ability, performed poorly.

Practitioner Summary: The design of automation intended for older adults should focus on ways of making the correctness of the automation apparent to the older user and suggest ways of helping them recover when it is malfunctioning.



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