Will Leidheiser proposes his thesis

Title of Thesis: The Effects of Age and Working Memory Demands on Automation-Induced Complacency
Thesis Advisor: Dr. Richard Pak
Thesis Committee Members: Dr. Richard Pak, Dr. Patrick Rosopa, and Dr. Kelly Caine
Date, Time, and Location: Monday, August 4th at 10:00 a.m., Brackett 419

Complacency refers to a type of automation use expressed as insufficient monitoring and verification of automated functions. Previous studies have attempted to identify the age-related factors that influence complacency during interaction with automation. However, little is known about the role of age-related differences in working memory capacity and its connection to complacent behaviors. The current study aims to examine whether working memory demand of an automated task and age-related differences in cognitive ability influence complacency. Higher degrees of automation (DOA) have been shown to reduce cognitive workload and may be used to manipulate working memory demand of a task. Thus, we hypothesize that a lower DOA (i.e. information acquisition stage with lower level) will demand more working memory than a higher DOA (i.e. decision selection stage with higher level) and that a lower DOA will result in a greater difference in complacency between age groups than a higher DOA.

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Published: A multi-level analysis of the effects of age and gender stereotypes on trust in anthropomorphic technology by younger and older adults

Our recent paper on anthropomorphic technology and stereotypes has just been published.

Pak, R., McLaughlin. A. C., & Bass, B. (In press). A Multi-level Analysis of the Effects of Age and Gender Stereotypes on Trust in Anthropomorphic Technology by Younger and Older Adults. Ergonomics

Abstract: Previous research has shown that gender stereotypes, elicited by the appearance of the anthropomorphic technology, can alter perceptions of system reliability. The current study examined whether stereotypes about the perceived age and gender of anthropomorphic technology interacted with reliability to affect trust in such technology. Participants included a cross-section of younger and older adults. Through a factorial survey, participants responded to health-related vignettes containing anthropomorphic technology with a specific age, gender, and level of past reliability by rating their trust in the system. Trust in the technology was affected by the age and gender of the user as well as its appearance and reliability. Perceptions of anthropomorphic technology can be affected by pre-existing stereotypes about the capability of a specific age or gender.

Practitioner Summary: The perceived age and gender of automation can alter perceptions of the anthropomorphic technology such as trust. Thus, designers of automation should design anthropomorphic interfaces with an awareness that the perceived age and gender will interact with the user’s age and gender.

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Short Interview About Our Research

The local NPR program Your Day interviewed Richard Pak about some of our latest research. You can listen to it here:

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Brock Bass successfully defends his thesis

Faces as Ambient Displays: Assessing the Attention-Demanding Characteristics of Facial Expressions

Thesis Defense

Dr. Richard Pak (Advisor), Dr. Leo Gugerty, Dr. Christopher Pagano

Ambient displays are used to provide information to users in a non-distracting manner. The purpose of this research was to examine the efficacy of facial expressions as a method of conveying information to users in an unobtrusive way. Facial expression recognition requires very little if any conscious attention from the user, which makes it an excellent candidate for the ambient presentation of information. Specifically, the current study quantified the amount of attention required to decode and recognize various facial expressions. The current study assessed the attention-demanding characteristics of facial expressions using the dual-task experiment paradigm. Results from the experiment suggest that Chernoff facial expressions are decoded with the most accuracy when happy facial expressions are used. There was also an age-effect on decoding accuracy; indicating younger adults had higher facial expression decoding performance compared to older adults. The observed decoding advantages for happy facial expressions and younger adults in the single-task were maintained in the dual-task. The dual-task paradigm revealed that the decoding of Chernoff facial expressions required more attention (i.e., longer response times and more face misses) than hypothesized, and did not evoke attention-free decoding. Chernoff facial expressions do not appear to be good ambient displays due to their attention-demanding nature.

1 pm, Monday December 16th, 419 Brackett

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Natalee Cartee proposes her thesis

ABSTRACT: Prospective memory (PM) failures (or failures to remember a future intention) can result in a wide range of negative consequences. The use of reminders has been shown to improve the rate of PM successes. The current study aims to examine the effectiveness of reminders based on their type (text or picture) and their timing. We hypothesize that successful PM performance will be maintained over longer anticipatory intervals when paired with picture reminders rather than with simple text reminders because of their inherent distinctiveness. Prior research has shown increased memory for PM intentions when distinctiveness was high.

Committee: Rich Pak (chair), Patrick Rosopa, Paul Merritt
Wednesday, November 20th at 12:30pm in Brackett 414.

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catlab at HFES 2013 in San Diego

Natalee Cartee presented her thesis idea: The Effects of Reminder Type and Anticipatory Interval on Prospective Memory

Natalee presents at HFES 2013 in San Diego

Brock Bass presented his poster: Effects of Age and Gender Stereotypes on Trust in an Anthropomorphic Decision Aid

Brock presents his poster at HFES 2013 in San Diego

Richard Pak was on a discussion panel: Discussion Panel Human Factors in Everyday Life with Arathi Sethumadhavan of Medtronic, Inc., Anne McLaughlin of North Carolina State University, Tim Nichols of Microsoft, Inc., and Mac Smith of Google, Inc.

And Rich got to climb at Joshua Tree while the students visited the San Diego Zoo.

Rich at Joshua Tree

Brock, Natalee, & WIll at the San Diego Zoo (2013)


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Newsletter 2013 and Brochure

The first edition of our newsletter highlighting major events and student milestones is available for download.

We also have a copy of our new brochure available for download here.

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Brock Bass is awarded Outstanding Master’s Degree Candidate in Psychology

Congratulations to Brock Bass for receiving the Outstanding Master’s Degree Candidate in Psychology Award

April 2013: Brock Bass receives the Outstanding Master's Degree Candidate in Psychology Award

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Dr. Nicole Fink successfully defends her dissertation

April 2013: Dr. Nicole Fink successfully defends her dissertation. Committee members Dr. Paul Merritt, Dr. Lee Gugerty, Dr. Richard Pak, and Dr. Gil Einstein (Furman Univ.)

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Nicole Fink’s Dissertation Defense

WHAT: Nicole Fink’s Dissertation Defense

WHEN: Wednesday April 17th, 2013 @ 4:00pm

WHERE: Brackett Hall Room 120

COMMITTEE: Dr. Richard Pak (Chair), Dr. Giles Einstein, Dr. Leo Gugerty, and Dr. Paul Merritt

TITLE: Picture Superiority Effect in Prospective Memory: Examining the Influence of Age and Attention Load

ABSTRACT: The picture superiority effect (i.e. better memory for pictures than words) is well established in retrospective memory, but the examination of the picture superiority effect in prospective memory has been underrepresented in the literature. Understanding if pictures lead to better prospective memory than words has the theoretical benefit of increasing our understanding of what particular factors lead to spontaneous retrieval and the practical benefit of informing the design of memory aids. Additionally, we examine if there are differences in ongoing task and prospective memory task performance between age groups (old and young) and under different loads of attention (non-divided and divided). We hypothesize that pictures are more distinct than words, and will therefore promote spontaneous retrieval, which will be exhibited by high and stable performance in the picture (not word) conditions across both divided and non-divided attention tasks and equivalent prospective memory performance by younger and older adults in only the picture, not word conditions. Results demonstrated that a picture superiority effect does exist for prospective memory tasks. Participants viewing all picture stimuli not only remembered to perform the PM task more often than participants who viewed all word stimuli, they also performed the ongoing categorization task faster. Although our hypotheses were not fully supported, there is evidence for picture stimuli leading to spontaneous retrieval more than word stimuli. An applied example of how pictures can help alleviate memory demands is provided through an account of a newly diagnosed Type 1 diabetic’s daily task of insulin administration.

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