Effects of sequential and simultaneous presentations of information.

Mats Lind

Report no. 19, CMD, Uppsala University, 1991.


In decision making different presentations of the relevant data may influence how quickly a correct decision is made. One way in which presentations of data can vary is whether the relevant data are available simultaneously or sequentially to the decision maker. Field studies and results obtained in the area of control room design indicate that simultaneous presentations lead to faster decisions. Since computers are increasingly being used to provide data to decision makers, and computer presentations of data on VDU:s tend to be sequential, these indications needed to be investigated further. An analysis of the two forms of presentation provided six possible explanations of the observed superiority of simultaneous presentations. These were tested in a series of three experiments. The results show that the simultaneous presentation do lead to substantially shorter decision times and that this effect doesn't diminish with practice even when experienced computer users are used as subjects. Of the six possible explanations only one cannot be rejected. This explanation states that the effect is due to an interference in working memory between information used for making the decision and information used for controlling the human-computer interface. The implications of these findings are discussed.


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