Effects of Visual Interruptions on Task Times and Accuracies


Additional computer screens and visual displays are often used to increase operator efficiency while performing tasks that require vigilance and selective attention. However, this additional information comes to the operators (drivers, security officials, air traffic controllers etc.) at a cost. In general operators are forced to multitask but sometimes multitasking is not possible and interruptions of tasks occur. Multiple Resource Theory suggests that humans have limited capacity for information processing especially if the tasks require the same resource, in this case visual resource. In this study, the effect of visual interruptions on primary task performances (in terms of errors made), and interrupting task times and performances were analyzed. Lafayette Instruments' DIVID software was used as the primary task and MVPT-3 visual perception test were used as interrupting task. Thirty subjects participated in the experiments. Repetitive measures ANOVA were used to analyze the data. The results showed significant decrease in primary and interrupting task performances as well as increase in interrupting task times.

Meeting Name

62nd IIE Annual Conference and Expo (2012: May 19-23; Orlando, FL)


Engineering Management and Systems Engineering

Second Department

Psychological Science


FedEx Ground
Harris Assured Communications
The Hershey Company

Keywords and Phrases

Air traffic control; Data processing; Software testing; Air traffic controller; Mental work; Multiple resources; Operator efficiency; Selective attention; Vigilance; Visual interruptions; Visual perception; Exhibitions

Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

Document Version


File Type





© 2012 Institute of Industrial Engineers (IIE), All rights reserved.

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