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Cognitive abilities and safety on the road: A re-examination of individual differences in dichotic listening and search for embedded figures.
McKenna, F.P., Duncan, J. & Brown, I.D.
Ergonomics, 29, 649-663.
Year of publication:
Five cognitive ability tests were administered to a sample of 153 busdriver trainees. The embedded figures test (EFT) of Witkin and the dichotic listening test (DLT) of Gopher and Kahneman were chosen on the basis of previously reported correlations with driving accident rate. The remainder were chosen in an attempt at theoretical analysis of the underlying cognitive processes which the EFT and DLT measure. The EFT correlated only marginally with sucess in driver training and with accident rate in a follow-up period of two years. The DLT showed no such correlations, thus failing to replicate earlier findings. As regards theoretical analysis, there was no support for the hypothesis that the EFT measures a general ability to resist distraction from dominant stimuli. Instead a substantial correlation (.64) was obtained with a typical “intelligence” test. Neither was there any support for the hypothesis that the DLT measures a general ability to switch from one mental set to another. We suggest that analysis of the cognitive processes of driving cannot be based on overall measures such as accident rate. If drivimg is to be understood in these terms, it must be studied at the level of component skills.