Prof. Mark Young

Mark Young is an Inspector with the UK’s Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) and leads the Branch’s work on human factors. Before joining RAIB in 2012, he worked in academia, researching and teaching in human factors, with a particular interest in mental workload associated with vehicle automation. Mark has around 25 years’ experience working in human factors, and holds a degree in Psychology and a PhD in Human Factors, both from the University of Southampton. He is also a Visiting Professor at Loughborough University’s Design School.

Talk – Perspectives on mental workload: tackling the underload problem

For human factors researchers and practitioners, mental workload remains both a crucial concept and a nebulous one. After decades of work in this field, there is still no real consensus on the construct of mental workload, although there is wide agreement about its multidimensional nature and the main ways to measure it. With increasing automation in many domains, the issue of underload has attracted a considerable proportion of research effort. This paper summarises work to propose a theory of underload based on the notion of malleable attentional resources, but also raises challenges that this theory – and, perhaps, underload in general – may be specific to automation. The paper goes on to discuss the elusive ‘redlines’ of overload and underload, and concludes by considering both theoretical and applied challenges for current research into mental workload