Date of Award

Spring 2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Director

Mark W. Scerbo

Committee Member

Debra A. Major

Committee Member

Christopher Brill


This present study examined the ability of clinicians and novices to correctly categorize fetal heart rate (FHR) variability with and without the use of exemplars. Clinicians and undergraduate students were asked to inspect FHR images and determine into which of four categories they belonged. Each participant took part in three conditions: one in which they were provided exemplars of prototypical FHR variability to use during their categorization task, another in which they were provided exemplars of nonprototypical FHR variability to use in their task, and a control condition in which no exemplars were available. The results showed that experts were more accurate and quicker in their category judgments than novices, but this difference was largely limited to the condition with no exemplars. The results also showed that participants correctly categorized more prototypical images than nonprototypical images and that the prototypical and nonprototypical cues were beneficial for experts and novices. The results suggest that providing clinicians with alignable, high similarity visual aids can improve judgments about FHR variability and potentially enhance safety in labor and delivery.


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