Investigating the Relationship Between Mental State (Workload and Affect) and Physiology in a Control Room Setting (Ship Bridge Simulator)

Abstract: This paper discusses how to investigate the human element in a control room setting in terms of situational settings (monitoring and active control) and mental state (workload and affect). We show an explorative experiment in a ship bridge simulator context to investigate measurement practices and uncover correlations between mental state and changes in physiology. 31 participants from an engineering student population participated in the experiment. Data were collected from two scenarios through surveys (workload and affect) and physiology sensors (electrocardiography and electrodermal activity). We highlight the following findings from our experiment: One, there is a significant difference in variables measuring mental and physiological states between two regularly occurring scenarios in the context of large ship navigation. With changes in mental and physiological states, the capacity and reaction pattern of users change, so there are different demands of the user interface and system behavior. Two, elements of mental state are correlated with changes in physiological state. Most prominently, stress and workload covary with electrodermal activity and elements of heart rate variability. This finding can support designers in evaluating different solutions by enabling them to assess changes in the mental state of users working in control rooms through physiology sensor data.

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