Effects of response bias and judgment framing on operator use of an automated aid in a target detection task

Stephen Rice, Jason McCarley

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    43 Citations (Scopus)


    Automated diagnostic aids prone to false alarms often produce poorer human performance in signal detection tasks than equally reliable miss-prone aids. However, it is not yet clear whether this is attributable to differences in the perceptual salience of the automated aids' misses and false alarms or is the result of inherent differences in operators' cognitive responses to different forms of automation error. The present experiments therefore examined the effects of automation false alarms and misses on human performance under conditions in which the different forms of error were matched in their perceptual characteristics. Young adult participants performed a simulated baggage x-ray screening task while assisted by an automated diagnostic aid. Judgments from the aid were rendered as text messages presented at the onset of each trial, and every trial was followed by a second text message providing response feedback. Thus, misses and false alarms from the aid were matched for their perceptual salience. Experiment 1 found that even under these conditions, false alarms from the aid produced poorer human performance and engendered lower automation use than misses from the aid. Experiment 2, however, found that the asymmetry between misses and false alarms was reduced when the aid's false alarms were framed as neutral messages rather than explicit misjudgments. Results suggest that automation false alarms and misses differ in their inherent cognitive salience and imply that changes in diagnosis framing may allow designers to encourage better use of imperfectly reliable automated aids.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)320-331
    Number of pages12
    JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Applied
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2011


    • Automation
    • Bias
    • Framing
    • Saliency


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