Mental workload and performance measurements in driving task: A review literature

Totsapon Butmee*, Terry C. Lansdown, Guy H. Walker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

12 Citations (Scopus)
564 Downloads (Pure)


The concept of human mental workload in the field of human factors and psychology has a long history with important applications in the aviation and automotive industries. The main objectives of this literature review are defined the ‘mental workload’ term and determined mental workload measurement methods in driving task. Mental Workload is a complex concept and it is difficult to define this term. It has no a universal accepted definition. Mental workload level cannot be detected directly, however, it has found that relates to limitation of individual internal resources to accomplish the task, and also involves a multi-dimensional variable. Previously, several studies have been indicated that mental workload relate with operators’ performance, task demand and mental resource supply. Extremes (underload or overload) mental workload can degrade operators’ performance. Several assessment methods have been proposed for investigating mental workload. They can be performed in experimental or operational settings. There are seven selection criteria to select the most appropriate methods. These include sensitivity, diagnosticity, intrusiveness, implementation requirement, operator acceptance, selectivity and bandwidth and reliability. Dozens of Mental workload measurement techniques have been developed and categorized into three main groups. (i) Subjective rating, which were categorized into unidimensional and multidimensional. NASA-TLX, SWAT, RSME and MCH are the famous examples of subjective-based techniques. (ii) Performance measures are divided into primary task and secondary task measures. Primary task measures are capable of discriminating the resource competition between individual differences. For example, speed instability, distance headway instability, lateral position from road centerline, lane excursion, time spent out of lane can be widely used to represent the driver primary performances. In secondary task measures are more diagnosticity than primary task measures and subjective measures. Correct response, time response of additional secondary task are a well-known examples of secondary task performance measures in driving research. Additionally, (iii) Physiological techniques also have high sensitivity in measurement, but results from these methods can easily are confounded by other external and extraneous interference. Measures of Eye Functions have been frequently used if compared with other Physiological techniques. It can be argued that the combined methods are recommend cooperatively to predict human mental workload.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 20th Congress of the International Ergonomics Association
Subtitle of host publicationIEA 2018
EditorsYushi Fujita, Sebastiano Bagnara, Riccardo Tartaglia, Sara Albolino, Thomas Alexander
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)9783319960746
ISBN (Print)9783319960739
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Event20th Congress of the International Ergonomics Association 2018 - Florence, Italy
Duration: 26 Aug 201830 Aug 2018

Publication series

NameAdvances in Intelligent Systems and Computing
ISSN (Print)2194-5357
ISSN (Electronic)2194-5365


Conference20th Congress of the International Ergonomics Association 2018
Abbreviated titleIEA 2018


  • Driving task
  • Mental workload measurements
  • Performance measurements

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Computer Science(all)


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