There is more to a recent study into the effects of cognitive abilities and workload than meets the eye (Gonzales, C. “Task Workload and Cognitive Abilities in Dynamic Decision Making” Human Factors, Vol. 47, No. 1, 2005, pp. 92-101). The study found, as one would expect, that performance on a dynamic decision making task degraded with increasing workload or decreasing cognitive abilities. Also identified and not totally unexpected is that these two parameters interact, such that increasing workload had a greater impact on those scoring low on a cognitive abilities test.
What is potentially interesting is that the test that was used, the Raven Standard Progressive Matrices Test, is relatively easy to administer, non-verbal and free of cultural biases that, according to the study’s author, “is a good indicator of a person’s ability to dynamically manage a large set of goals in working memory and adapt to new situations.” It might be a useful tool in the selection of personnel who must make decisions in a dynamic setting, including process control. For more information on the Raven Test, go to www.jcravenltd.com.
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