Date of Award

Summer 8-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Director

Yusuke Yamani

Committee Member

Mark W. Scerbo

Committee Member

Jeremiah D. Still


The present study examined the effect of task priority and task load on attention allocation and automation trust in a multitasking flight simulator platform. Previous research demonstrated that, participants made less fixations and reported lower levels of trust towards the automation in the secondary monitoring under higher load on the primary tracking task (e.g., Karpinsky et al., 2018). The results suggested that participants perceived behaviors of the automated system less accurately due to less attention allocated to monitoring of the system, leading to decreased trust towards it. One potential explanation of the effect is that participants might have prioritized the tracking task due to the elevated task load over monitoring of the automation. The current study employed a 2 x 2 mixed design with task difficulty (low vs. high difficulty) and task priority (equal vs. tracking priority). Participants performed the central tracking task, the system monitoring task, and the fuel management task where the system monitoring was assisted by an imperfect automated system. Participants were instructed to either prioritize the central tracking task over the other two tasks or maximize performance for all tasks. Additionally, participants received feedback on their tracking performance reflecting an anchor of their baseline performance. The data indicated that participants rated lower performance-based trust in a multitasking environment when all tasks were equally prioritized, supporting the notion that task priority modulates the effect of task load.


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