The effects of interruption similarity and complexity on performance in a simulated visual-manual assembly operation Academic Article uri icon


  • The objective of the study was to assess the effects of interruption task similarity and complexity on performance of a simulated industrial assembly operation. Eighteen participants performed a simulated industrial assembly operation, including one trial with no interruption and eight others presenting an interruption task. Interruption conditions comprised a full crossing of task similarity to the primary assembly operation (similar, dissimilar) and complexity (simple, complex) with replication for each participant. Order of condition presentation was randomized. Findings revealed greater time to return to primary visual-manual assembly performance after a similar task interruption. Results also indicated complex interruptions may promote cognitive arousal that increases productivity following assembly interruptions. The majority of results are explained in terms of the Activation-Based Memory for Goals model. Findings provide some guidance for interruption management protocol design for workers engaged in procedural visual-manual assembly operations.

author list (cited authors)

  • Pankok, C., Zahabi, M., Zhang, W., Choi, I., Liao, Y., Nam, C. S., & Kaber, D.

citation count

  • 6

publication date

  • September 2016