Body posture as an indicator of workload in mental work

OBJECTIVE: For this article, the relationships between body posture and workload for four mental tasks simulated on a computer were studied. BACKGROUND: Human behaviors are observable during work and are related to human mental activities. A novel supplementary method, based on human behavior but not directly related to task execution, is proposed to assess the workload in mental work situations. METHOD: Body posture was quantitatively analyzed with the use of a video-based analysis system. The distance between a participant's head and the display, the distance between the shoulder and the hip, and the trunk angle of the shoulder and the hip with respect to the gravitational field were calculated. RESULTS: The various tasks affected the distance between the head and the display (p < .001) and the trunk angle (p < .001).The distance between the head and the display decreased with increasing workload (p = .007). CONCLUSION: These results indicate that body posture can be used as an indicator for overall workload assessment. APPLICATION: The proposed method of workload may be useful for real-time observations or the monitoring of mental states in mental work environments (e.g., rail traffic dispatching, air traffic control).

Source : Qiu J, Helbig R. Body posture as an indicator of workload in mental work. Hum. Factors 2012; 54(4): 626-635. http://hfs.sagepub.com/content/54/4/626.full.pdf+html

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