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Advancing Knowledge on Situation Comprehension in Dynamic Traffic Situations by Studying Eye Movements to Empty Spatial Locations


Frank, Wiebke; Mühl, Kristin; Rosner, Agnes; Baumann, Martin (2023). Advancing Knowledge on Situation Comprehension in Dynamic Traffic Situations by Studying Eye Movements to Empty Spatial Locations. Human Factors, 65(8):1674-1688.

Abstract

Objective: This study used the looking-at-nothing phenomenon to explore situation awareness (SA) and the effects of working memory (WM) load in driving situations.
Background: While driving, people develop a mental representation of the environment. Since errors in retrieving information from this representation can have fatal consequences, it is essential for road safety to investigate this process. During retrieval, people tend to fixate spatial positions of visually encoded information, even if it is no longer available at that location. Previous research has shown that this "looking-at-nothing" behavior can be used to trace retrieval processes.
Method: In a video-based laboratory experiment with 2 (WM) x 3 (SA level) within-subjects design, participants (N = 33) viewed a reduced screen and evaluated auditory statements relating to different SA levels on previously seen dynamic traffic scenarios while eye movements were recorded.
Results: When retrieving information, subjects more frequently fixated emptied spatial locations associated with the information relevant for the probed SA level. The retrieval of anticipations (SA level 3) in contrast to the other SA level information resulted in more frequent gaze transitions that corresponded to the spatial dynamics of future driving behavior.
Conclusion: The results support the idea that people build a visual-spatial mental image of a driving situation. Different gaze patterns when retrieving level-specific information indicate divergent retrieval processes.
Application: Potential applications include developing new methodologies to assess the mental representation and SA of drivers objectively.

Abstract

Objective: This study used the looking-at-nothing phenomenon to explore situation awareness (SA) and the effects of working memory (WM) load in driving situations.
Background: While driving, people develop a mental representation of the environment. Since errors in retrieving information from this representation can have fatal consequences, it is essential for road safety to investigate this process. During retrieval, people tend to fixate spatial positions of visually encoded information, even if it is no longer available at that location. Previous research has shown that this "looking-at-nothing" behavior can be used to trace retrieval processes.
Method: In a video-based laboratory experiment with 2 (WM) x 3 (SA level) within-subjects design, participants (N = 33) viewed a reduced screen and evaluated auditory statements relating to different SA levels on previously seen dynamic traffic scenarios while eye movements were recorded.
Results: When retrieving information, subjects more frequently fixated emptied spatial locations associated with the information relevant for the probed SA level. The retrieval of anticipations (SA level 3) in contrast to the other SA level information resulted in more frequent gaze transitions that corresponded to the spatial dynamics of future driving behavior.
Conclusion: The results support the idea that people build a visual-spatial mental image of a driving situation. Different gaze patterns when retrieving level-specific information indicate divergent retrieval processes.
Application: Potential applications include developing new methodologies to assess the mental representation and SA of drivers objectively.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Human Factors and Ergonomics
Social Sciences & Humanities > Applied Psychology
Life Sciences > Behavioral Neuroscience
Uncontrolled Keywords:Knowledge representation, experimental design, eye movements, information processing, mental models, situation awareness, working memory
Language:English
Date:1 December 2023
Deposited On:28 Jan 2022 15:43
Last Modified:28 Dec 2023 02:41
Publisher:Sage Publications
ISSN:0018-7208
OA Status:Green
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1177/00187208211063693
PubMed ID:35038893
Project Information:
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant IDPP00P1_157432
  • : Project TitleUnderstanding the Role of Memory in Judgments and Decisions: The Influence of Exemplars
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant IDPZ00P1_186032
  • : Project TitleThe mind’s eye in episodic memory: Looking at things that are no longer there