Comparison of NASA-TLX scale, Modified Cooper-Harper scale and mean inter-beat interval as measures of pilot mental workload during simulated flight tasks

Heikki Mansikka, Kai Virtanen, Don Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)
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Abstract

The sensitivity of NASA-TLX scale, modified Cooper–Harper (MCH) scale and the mean inter-beat interval (IBI) of successive heart beats, as measures of pilot mental workload (MWL), were evaluated in a flight training device (FTD). Operational F/A-18C pilots flew instrument approaches with varying task loads. Pilots’ performance, subjective MWL ratings and IBI were measured. Based on the pilots’ performance, three performance categories were formed; high-, medium- and low-performance. Values of the subjective rating scales and IBI were compared between categories. It was found that all measures were able to differentiate most task conditions and there was a strong, positive correlation between NASA-TLX and MCH scale. An explicit link between IBI, NASA-TLX, MCH and performance was demonstrated. While NASA-TLX, MCH and IBI have all been previously used to measure MWL, this study is the first one to investigate their association in a modern FTD, using a realistic flying mission and operational pilots. Practitioner summary: NASA-TLX scale, MCH scale and the IBI were evaluated in a flight training device. All measures were able to differentiate most task conditions and there was a positive correlation between NASA-TLX and MCH scale. An explicit link between IBI, NASA-TLX, MCH and performance was demonstrated. Abbreviations: ANOVA: Analysis of Variance; ECG: Electrocardiograph; F/A: fighter/attack; ft: feet; FTD: flight training device; G: Gravity; km: kilometer; m: meter; m/s: meters per second; MWL: mental workload; MCH: modified cooper-harper; NASA-TLX: NASA Task Load Index; NM: Nautical Mile; NN: normal-to-normal; IBI: inter-beat interval; ILS: Instrument Landing System; RR: R-Wave to R-Wave; SD: standard deviation; TTP: tactics, techniques and procedures; WTSAT: Weapon Tactics and Situation Awareness Trainer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)246-254
Number of pages9
JournalErgonomics
Volume62
Issue number2
Early online date30 Apr 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2019

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Bibliographical note

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Ergonomics on 30/04/2018, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/00140139.2018.1471159

Accepted manuscript released 30th April 2018. Online Version of Record released 27th January 2019.

Keywords

  • NASA-TLX scale
  • Pilot mental workload
  • inter-beat interval
  • modified Cooper–Harper scale

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation

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