Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Working together can help battle effects of fatigue

18.08.2011
Teams show more flexible thinking when fatigued than individuals, study finds

Fatigue can lead to dangerous errors by doctors, pilots and others in high-risk professions, but individuals who work together as a team display better problem-solving skills than those who face their fatigue alone, new research shows.

"Teams appear to be more highly motivated to perform well, and team members can compare solutions to reach the best decision when they are fatigued. This appears to allow teams to avoid the inflexible thinking experienced by fatigued individuals," said Daniel Frings, PhD, a senior lecturer in social psychology at London South Bank University. His study was published online this week in the American Psychological Association's Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied. The work was supported by a grant from the Economic and Social Research Council, a government-funded organization serving the United Kingdom.

The study examined the problem-solving skills of 171 army officer cadets during a weekend training exercise. Individual cadets and teams of four cadets from the University of London Officers' Training Corps worked on a series of math problems. Some cadets were tested at the beginning of the training when they were rested, while others were tested at the end when they were exhausted from military drills, night watch duty, and a lack of sleep. The results showed that individual soldiers who were fatigued performed significantly worse on the tests than alert soldiers. However, teams of cadets performed just as well when they were tired as when they were alert.

Many studies have shown how fatigue affects individuals, but little research has explored how teams cope with fatigue. The cadets, who ranged in age from 18 to 24, completed math tests that measured the "Einstellung effect," a type of inflexible thinking where individuals rely on previous solutions to problems rather than adapting to new situations that may require a different approach.

"Flexible thinking during problem solving is vital in many fields," Frings said. "Failing to adapt quickly to new situations can be very dangerous in constantly changing environments, such as hospitals and battlefields. A doctor may misdiagnose a patient if he always connects one group of symptoms with a certain condition rather than considering other possibilities. Military leaders also may overlook potential risks to soldiers if they don't adapt their thinking to changes on the ground."

The cadets completed 10 problems involving hypothetical water jugs that had to be filled to certain levels by pouring the jugs into one another. Some problems had multiple solutions so cadets had to show flexible thinking as they worked through the test. Teams may handle fatigue better than individuals because some team members may be less susceptible to fatigue and still able to perform at a high level, the study found.

In situations where fatigue is a factor, decisions should be made by teams rather than individuals when possible, the study concluded. If that isn't practical, then organizations should train their employees to identify the inflexible thinking that can result from fatigue and possibly delay crucial decisions.

The American Psychological Association, in Washington, D.C., is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States and is the world's largest association of psychologists. APA's membership includes more than 154,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 54 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance psychology as a science, as a profession and as a means of promoting health, education and human welfare.

Article: "The Effects of Group Monitoring on Fatigue-Related Einstellung During Mathematical Problem Solving," Daniel Frings, PhD, London South Bank University; Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, Online First, August 17, 2011.

Full text of the article is available from the APA Public Affairs Office and at http://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/xap-ofp-frings.pdf.

Dr. Frings can be contacted through London South Bank University press officer Anna Cureton at curetona@lsbu.ac.uk or 011 44 020 7815 6717

APA Public Affairs | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.apa.org

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Multi-year study finds 'hotspots' of ammonia over world's major agricultural areas
17.03.2017 | University of Maryland

nachricht Diabetes Drug May Improve Bone Fat-induced Defects of Fracture Healing
17.03.2017 | Deutsches Institut für Ernährungsforschung Potsdam-Rehbrücke

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A Challenging European Research Project to Develop New Tiny Microscopes

The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.

To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers shoot for success with simulations of laser pulse-material interactions

29.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Igniting a solar flare in the corona with lower-atmosphere kindling

29.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

As sea level rises, much of Honolulu and Waikiki vulnerable to groundwater inundation

29.03.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>