New research shows that people have greater difficultly maintaining afixed speed, or keeping their car safe in a single lane when performingtasks that simulated conversing on a mobile phone, than if they weredriving without the distraction. Contrary to expectation, the speakingand listening were equally distracting. The research was conducted atthe University of Illinois and will be published in the next edition ofApplied Cognitive Psychology.
Almost 100 students took experiments in which they drove virtualcars. While driving they had to provide answers about the layout ofbuildings on their campus, or check that statements made by othersabout relative positions of building were correct. The researchersmonitored various aspects of their driving performance while theyperformed these tasks.
They showed that both speaking and listening had detrimentaleffects on driving. Participants were poorer at maintaining a stablespeed, or keeping a constant distance between themselves and othertraffic than when only driving. Paradoxically, there was someindication that when drivers had to speak while driving, their lanecontrol increased even though speed control decreased.
Before this research the expectation was that speaking would bemore detrimental than listening, because speaking is often thought tobe a more complex task. "Unexpectedly we found that speaking andlistening had very similar detrimental effects," says lead author TateKubose, a postdoctoral fellow working in the Beckman Institute forAdvanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois. "Theseresults challenge the widespread presumption that production is harderthan comprehension, and the expectation that talking while driving isnecessarily more disruptive than listening," says Dr Kubose.
These results support the growing body of data suggesting thatit is the cognitive task of conversing via phone, in addition to thephysical task of handling the equipment, that impedes a person'sability to drive safely.
Notes to Editors:
Tate T. Kubose, The Effects of SpeechProduction and Speech Comprehension on Simulated Driving Performance;Journal of Applied Cognitive Psychology 2005, DOI: 10.1002/acp.1164
Applied Cognitive Psychology seeks to publish the best papersdealing with psychological analyses of memory, learning, thinking,problem solving, language, and consciousness as they occur in the realworld. Applied Cognitive Psychology will publish papers on a widevariety of issues and from diverse theoretical perspectives. Thejournal focuses on studies of human performance and basic cognitiveskills in everyday environments including, but not restricted to,studies of eyewitness memory, autobiographical memory, spatialcognition, skill training, expertise and skilled behaviour. Articleswill normally combine realistic investigations of real world eventswith appropriate theoretical analyses and proper appraisal of practicalimplications. While empirical research remains the primary focus of thejournal, Applied Cognitive Psychology also publishes theoreticalarticles, reviews and surveys.
Applied Cognitive Psychology is the official journal of theSociety for Applied Research in Memory and Cognition (SARMAC). The aimof the Society is to promote the communication of applied research inmemory and cognition within and between the applied and basic researchcommunities. Don Read is the Editor representing SARMAC, elected by theGoverning Board of the Society. The Journal of Applied CognitivePsychology can be accessed at: www.interscience.wiley.com/journal/acp
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