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Predicting vigilance: A fresh look at an old problem

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Individual differences in vigilance are ubiquitous and relevant to a variety of work environments in industrial, transportation, medical and security settings. Despite much previous work, mostly on personality traits, it remains difficult to identify vigilant operators. This paper reviews recent research that may point towards practically useful predictor variables for vigilance. Theoretical approaches to identifying predictors that accommodate the heterogeneous nature of vigilance tasks are compared. The article surveys recent empirical studies using personality measures, ability tests and scales for stress and coping as predictors of vigilance. Promising new constructs include trait scales linked to fatigue, abnormal personality and the stress state of task engagement. Implications of the data reviewed for occupational selection are discussed. Selection should be based on a multivariate assessment strategy, cognitive task analysis of the operational vigilance task and use of work sample measures to capture typical stress responses to the task. This review paper surveys recent research that may point towards practically useful predictor variables for vigilance. The article surveys recent empirical studies using personality measures, ability tests and scales for stress and coping as predictors of vigilance. Selection should be based on a multivariate assessment strategy.
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Keywords: individual differences; personality; personnel selection; vigilance

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Air Force Research Laboratory, Wright Patterson AFB, 2: University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH, USA

Publication date: July 1, 2009

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