Abstract

The objective of this research was to study the conditions under which rhythmic behavior arises and its effects on task performance and mental workload. It has been demonstrated that temporal awareness (TA) in dynamic systems draws on high-level mental resources and contributes to superior performance on some task elements but not others. Elsewhere it has been demonstrated that TA in environments with high predictability can lead to superior task performance and reduced mental workload. This research sought to examine the behavior and subsequent performance that arises under highly predictable vs. dynamic conditions. Using a computer-based time-sharing task, we analyzed task performance and temporal awareness under 3 levels of rhythm (easy, difficult, and arrhythmic) and 2 levels of response task difficulty. Results indicate that rhythmic presentation of both response task levels leads to reduced levels of mental workload, but offers no discernible benefits to task performance. Participants exhibited greater TA in rhythmic conditions as compared to arrhythmic conditions. Further testing with more realistic response tasks and a greater balance in rhythm levels is needed to more accurately describe participants' subjective experience of rhythm and its effects on task performance.

Publication Date

12-5-2009

Document Type

Thesis

Student Type

Graduate

Degree Name

Experimental Psychology (MS)

Department, Program, or Center

Psychology (CLA)

Advisor

Esa M. Rantanen

Advisor/Committee Member

Andrew M. Herbert

Advisor/Committee Member

Carl Atkins

Campus

RIT – Main Campus

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