Latest results: Roca, Castro, Bueno, & Moreno-Ríos 2012

Javier Roca, Cándida Castro, Mercedes Bueno and Sergio Moreno-Ríos have discovered that drivers construct different mental models of the events and objects that surround them as they interact with the road environment when they make inferences based on prohibitory traffic signs compared to obligatory signs. They report their results in the article,  A driving-emulation task to study the integration of goals with obligatory and prohibitory traffic signs  in Applied Ergonomics (43, 81-88)  and they  summarise them in their abstract:

From Abstract: “…Participants imagine they are driving a vehicle and must make right or left turn manoeuvres according to a previously indicated objective and the information from obligatory and prohibitory traffic signs. Eighty-two participants took part in two different experiments. According to the results, an obligatory traffic sign is associated with faster and more accurate responses only when the participant’s initial objective is allowed. When the initial objective was not allowed, an advantage in accuracy was observed with prohibitory traffic signs and there was no significant difference in reaction time between the two types of sign. These results suggest that having an obligatory traffic sign may facilitate a correct response when the driver’s goal is effectively allowed, whereas a prohibitory traffic sign could be more effective in preventing error when the driver has a not-allowed goal in mind. However, processing a prohibitory sign requires an extra inference (i.e. deciding which is the allowed manoeuvre), and thus the potential advantage in reaction time of the prohibitory sign may disappear…”

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