Monday, 16 March 2015

Trial lecture presenting my neurocognitive research

In late February 2015 I was invited to give a presentation of my research to the Department of biological and medical psychology at the University of Bergen. I emphasized my neurocognitive research, clinical studies and the use of psychophysiological measures in my applied research. The presentation was structured around the published papers, highlighting the findings in the abstracts. Among the topics covered were implicit learning, selective attention, working memory, situation awareness, team-work, consciousness and clinical work.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Newspaper feature on colour perception (in Norwegian)

Image courtesey of, published under a CC-licence.

Early last week, I wrote a feature article in the local newspaper about what had been the big science news story the preceding weekend: The dress that some saw as black and blue, while others saw it as white and gold. To some extent I leaned on what others like Cedar Riener, Tom Stafford and Steven Pinker have written on the subject.

Although presenting an account of the phenomenon (colour constancy), I emphasised that the percpetual effect of this image appears to be quite unique, and that the novel features, such as the individual variation, the stability of the percept and the influence of context clues need more research.

My article is available here (in Norwegian).

Friday, 28 November 2014

Lecture on cognitive factors in operative environments

Below is the presentation from the third lecture in the Operational psychology master's course (in Norwegian). The lecture covers dynamic decision environments, mental models, decision-making, naturalistic decision-making, situation awareness, team decision-making, shared mental models, team cognition, team situation awareness, and finally gave examples from my own research.

Introductory lecture to operational psychology master course

In the spring semester of 2014, we started offering a master's course in Operational psychology. I was responsible for the course, but used extensive guest lecturers, where experts in each respective field was asked to cover a topic. The course topics were:

  1. Introduction to the field of Human Factors (me)
  2. Operative cooperation, leadership and communication (Roar Espevik)
  3. Cognitive processes in operative settings (me)
  4. Individual differences in operative situations (Paul Bartone)
  5. Care of personnel after critical incidents (Jarle Eid)
  6. Human error and accident causes (Kathryn Mearns)
Below is my introductory lecture (in Norwegian). The lecture localized the field of Human Factors within the rest of psychology, and discussed it's history, topics, methods, and gave samples from research and application (including an overview of our research group).

Monday, 24 November 2014

Paper introducing the methodology of the similarity index in field studies

Early in my post-doc project, our research group was contacted by an emergency control centre in a major oil company. The centre handles incidents on offshore oil and gas rigs, events like fires or gas leaks, heavy weather or ships on collision course. The centre's task is to construct a coherent image of the emergency based on the incoming information, and to advise and organize the different resources involved in handling the emergency. The centre wanted our help to identify areas for further improving their emergency handling.

My initial approach to the request was to develop measures for individual and team mental representation. That is, does each team member have a good idea of what's going on at the oil rig, and does the team as a whole have a good idea of this? However, it quickly became apparent that since both actual events and training exercises in this setting are non-transparent, dynamic and interactive, it would be challenging to establish a ground truth for what the different team members should be expected to know at different times through an exercise.

We arranged a series of unstructured and semistructured training exercises for all the emergency teams in the organization. At planned intervals we "froze" the exercise, and had all team members answer questions about the situation and the team's work. But the challenge remained of how to assess the responses of these questions. The experts were reluctant to say that a given team member should hold a given bit of information about the situation at a given point in time.

The solution I chose was to compare the answers between the team members. I developed two algorithms that were applicable to all the questions. The first of these returned a value from 0 to 1, indicating how similar your answer was to the rest of the team. The second returned a value from 0 to 1, indicating how similar your answer was to the team leader. I argued that the first calculation should approach a measure of shared mental models, that is, the extent to which the team member had the same representation of the incident as the rest of the team. The second calculation should approach a measure of situation awareness, as a higher score should be associated with more accurate knowledge, given the assumption that the team leader was the best informed member of the team.

As this was a fairly (though not completely) novel methodological approach, before going any further we published a paper that went into some detail on describing the measures and the calculation of the scores. This was published in Journal of Cognitive Engineering and Decision Making: The similarity index as an indicator of SMM and SA in field studies. This paper did not test any research hypotheses, as this was reserved for future papers.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Book chapter on situation awareness applied in maritime settings

In 2013, our research group "Operational psychology research group" and associated members collaborated on an edited book called "Motivating for safety". The book was intended for practitioners in the industry, in particular captains and safety officers in the maritime field. The book covered topics such as safety climate, sleep deprivation, shared mental models, situation awareness, leadership, psychological capital and hardiness. Each topic is illustrated with cases, exercises and training questions. My chapter on situation awareness is linked below.

Motivating for safety - Chapter 6 - Seeing, understanding, anticipating - Situation awareness as a requirement for safe voyages

Friday, 17 October 2014

Trial lecture on the psychology of risk

In the process of applying for a associate professor position in cognitive psychology, I was asked to deliver a lecture on my own research. Rather than talking about my previous research on the neurocognition of selective attention, I chose to focus the presentation around different research projects I've had on the topic of "risk".

I started out with an example I sometimes use in my lectures to demonstrate the various risks that are relevant to their age group in Norway. I then introduced some classic studies on risk, and some fundamental perspectives. I presented my recent series of Go/NoGo lab experiments intended to model risk perception. I then introduced "situation awareness" as an application of risk in real-word settings, and the related research projects I've run to attempt to approach it in surveys, lab and field experiments. Finally, I discussed some of the consequences of risk, showing how people's behaviour are sometimes changed after considering dangerous situations. Relevant to this, I presented three experiments done in collaboration with Hallgeir Sjåstad, where presenting a threat influenced how security policy was evaluated by a post-Utøya sample.