Date of Award

Winter 1988

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Industrial/Organizational Psychology

Committee Director

Raymond Kirby

Committee Member

Glynn D. Coates

Committee Member

Paul M. Haas

Committee Member

Bruce Coury

Committee Member

Ben B. Morgan


This research focused on the effectiveness of two operator teams for dynamic control of a process simulation. The responsibility for system optimization and failure detection was shared by the operators through computer-mediated communication. System information was displayed to both operators by one of three mental models of the systems: an alphanumeric/separable representation, a graphic/integral system representation, or both representations. The following team-display configurations were used: primary operator with graphic display, support operator with alphanumeric (GRAL); primary operator with alphanumeric display, support operator with graphic (ALGR); both operators with alphanumeric displays (BOAL); both operators with graphic displays (BOGR); and both operators with both displays (BOTH).

The results demonstrated a positive relationship between the control of the process and the amount of communication the teams exchanged. Communication dropped significantly during conditions that included system failures. This communication decrease was indicative of the increased workload associated with diagnosing failures. The ability of teams to optimize the system and minimize system takeovers degraded significantly when failures were introduced to the process. While communication may have been effective for controlling the system during normal conditions, when failures were present the teams did not appear to work as well together. Several primary operators commented that they did not utilize the support operator as much during the failure condition as during normal operations.

Although there were no differences in the ability of the teams to control the process or detect failures, their ability to utilize information varied as a function of display configuration. Information utilization was significantly better for the ALGR teams. Also, response sensitivities of these teams were significantly higher. This indicates that the ALGR teams used the resources of their partners or the screen displays for information, rather than querying the system.

Comparisons were made with similar research which used individual operators (Coury & Pietras, 1986). These comparisons revealed that the teams in the present study were not as effective in system optimization or failure detection. These differences may be attributed to population differences, team communication and coordination workload, or actual performance differences of teams versus individuals.


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