Emotionally involving telephone conversations lead to driver error and visual tunnelling

Briggs, Gemma; Hole, Graham and Land, Michael (2011). Emotionally involving telephone conversations lead to driver error and visual tunnelling. In: 9th Conference of The Society for Applied Research in Memory & Cognition (SARMAC IX), 27-29 Jun 2011, New York City, NY, USA..

Abstract

Research shows that driving performance deteriorates during a mobile phone conversation, yet the precise conditions under which interference occurs remains unclear. This study varied the participants' level of emotional involvement in a conversation, while keeping the conversation similar in content for all participants. Twenty-six participants (13 spider phobic), completed a simulated driving task, either undistracted or while conversing on the subject of spiders. Spider phobics demonstrated significantly higher cognitive workload, made more driving errors, than non-phobics, and showed visual tunnelling. The type of conversation engaged in affects driver performance: the more emotionally-involving a conversation, the greater its potential for distraction.

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